Collecting Guidance

Shell collecting on an idyllic beach is one of life's pleasant experiences which generates interest and often leads to the development of a seashell collecting hobby. Like many natural collecting hobbies, it faces challenges to adopt good practices in terms of conservation. Shell collecting develops an appreciation of nature and many of our members play an active role in the acquisition of scientific knowledge and conservation.


A collecting hobby leads to economic value being placed on the specimens.The temptation arises to start collecting rare live specimens for their resale value.A collector taking one or two specimens from a population will have little impact but in certain countries the economic drive of the local population to create a flow of shells for the gift shop market and the wilful exploitation of rare live specimens by dealers, has caused some governments to set out restrictions on collecting.

The club expects members to fully respect restrictions of the CITES convention for endangered species. Any dealer or member exchanging specimens is required to ensure that none of their material is covered by the CITES legislation, by the European Protected Species legislation, or by any legislation local to the country in which you collect. The British and European legislation is described on this web site in PROTECTED SPECIES and THE BSCC.

Some countries restrict collecting of live specimens in order to conserve stocks and limit senseless exploitation. Members are expected to respect these local conservation controls. The club advises it members to check local conditions before they book their journeys with websites providing helpful information or by correspondence with local collectors who can be found on the internet.

Information and articles on successful collecting experiences in different countries can be found in the Articles section.

Good Practice

The British Shell Collectors' Club encourages its members to follow a code of conduct for sensible collecting practices.

Collect and enjoy beach shells. Try to get specimens from local fishermen.

If you are buying local specimens, buy for your collection. Don't buy for the resale value.

If you are collecting live specimens then think. If it is a species which is abundant then take the specimens for your collection. For the less common species then limit yourself to one or two and don't be tempted by the value of the find.

If you have a good collection and have built a fund of knowledge, then share it within our club or with museums and other scientific organisations so that it is retained for everyone. Most of these organisations rely on collectors as a source of specimens.

Check the local regulations with a local collector before you book your trip.

Leave the live coral alone! Put rocks back in place, the way you found them, even in deep water. Many things live under them and be alert for invertebrate eggs and protect them.

For further details, comments or queries, please contact the
Copyright of all images remains with the originator and the British Shell Collectors' Club and may not be copied without their express permission. Copyrightę 2003-2013 British Shell Collectors' Club. All rights reserved.

Bullet2 Return to the top Bullet2

Bullet2 Homepage Bullet2