In the late 1980s, worried about the shell population, Sanibel Island petitioned the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission to restrict live shelling. As a result, the commission passed a special “Sanibel Shelling” rule called the 46-26. This rule restricted live shell collection to two specimens of any one species per day.
The 46-26 rule was in effect for six years however, enforcement was virtually impossible, and collecting in excess of these limits occurred regularly. So in 1993 Sanibel Island further petitioned the Fisheries Commission to establish a complete ban on live shelling. This rule included shellfish, sand dollars, starfish, and sea urchins. After a public hearing, the rule was approved and went into effect on January 1, 1995. Thanks to the conservation-minded islanders, who pushed for rule 46-26 we now have beaches with an abundance of shells and sea life just waiting for you.
Keep in mind, no live shells can be taken. Also, don’t take too many shells. Over-shelling can harm the environment. Also, make sure to hang on to any plastic bags you may have brought to hold your new collection. Plastic bags are deadly to sea life.