SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) -- Fishermen from all over the area have had this week circled on their calendar for months. That's because it's the open of the 2012 oyster season. So far returns have captains happy as a clam.
At the Surf City Crab Company people are standing in line to get their hands on the first fresh oysters of the season.
"I just sold two bushels to somebody from Virginia to take back," Chandler Madray said. "You would be shocked at how many people actually grab our oysters and go out of state with them, so we have been real fortunate."
Experts say one of the reasons for their good fortune is actually the amount of oysters eaten at local restaurants.
"Some of the oysters that people are eating in town are actually going to go back into the water and increase spat set, which are the juvenile oysters that are floating around and looking for habitat to settle on," NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources District Manager Chip Collier said.
The Oyster Shell Recycling Program provides that shelter, which keeps consumers shuckin' away.
"It's not a bumper sticker when it says, 'No Wetlands No Seafood,'" Madray said. "We have to have wetlands. We have to have an area that is providing a nursery for all of this. For us to have more oysters, we've got to keep on shuckin'."
Experts say the warm weather could also help produce a bumper crop of oysters.
Commercial fishermen are allowed to harvest up to five bushels of oysters at a time. Recreational fishermen can only take one.