Local oysterman planting for the future

Bob Baldwin planting oysters for next year (Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Sonya

MCCLELLANVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- Oyster season is here!

And while it's easy to order steamed oysters off the menu or dig in at a local oyster roast, it's hard work for those that call themselves oystermen.

Bob Baldwin spends most of his time on the water, but he isn't just cruising around in his boat. He is also busy gathering, loading and planting oysters.

"Just grab as many as I can because every oyster - that's not just one oyster that's a half a dozen oysters right there," said Baldwin. "So just pile as many as you can in there."

That pile of oysters is then transported to another area. The process is called planting, and it's a requirement of Baldwin's permit with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

"I have to plant so many bushels per acre for the permit I have, and this shoreline doesn't grow a good oyster," said Baldwin. "It has plenty of oysters on it and it gets a good set of small oysters every year, but they stay small; they don't grow. So, I can move them from this shore to another shore where they do grow and that fulfills my planting quota."

He is required to plant 50 bushels per acre, but he planted close to 200 bushels in just a few hours.

The goal, of course, it is to maximize the amount of marketable oysters. And this late in the season, you want to move as many live oysters as you can.

"They'll grow over the next year so that hopefully not this season, but the following season, they'll be big enough to harvest," said Baldwin.

And while it's hard work harvesting the current crop and planting for the next year, he says it's all worthwhile.

"I would rather be out in the creek than anywhere else. I'm happy working, happy being out there," said Baldwin.

Happy to help others enjoy the oysters.

Oyster season continues until the middle of May.

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