Florida wildlife officials shut down wild-oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through 2025

The Apalachicola Bay provides nearly 90% of Florida’s wild oysters and 10% for the rest of the nation, says the FWC.

PHOTO VIA ADOBE
PHOTO VIA ADOBE


Today, Florida wildlife authorities voted to suspend wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through the end of 2025.

As a last ditch effort to conserve the existing oysters and their habitat,  the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously on the closure of the area at Wednesday’s commission meeting. Despite providing nearly 90% of Florida’s wild oysters and 10% for the rest of the nation, Apalachicola Bay has been on life support for nearly a decade due to over harvesting, draught and excessive water use from the state of Georgia.  

Officials say oyster numbers in Apalachicola Bay have been declining since 2013 and are now at a historic low.

The closure will not apply to oyster aquaculture operations.

Wild oyster harvesting was actually suspended in the area since August, after an emergency executive order was put into place. Officials at Wednesday’s meeting finalized that decision, but added that they will continue to monitor the bay to see if harvest opportunities will become available sooner than 2025. 

To aid in this effort, the FWC also announced a $20 million grant to help conduct large-scale oyster habitat restoration from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefits Fund, which receives money from a settlement with BP and Transocean over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. 

“These funds will be used for a 5-year project that began in 2020, which includes developing a stakeholder-informed adaptive management plan for the oyster fishery and cultching (the spreading of shell to restore oyster habitat) on 1,000 acres of oyster reef habitat,” says the FWC.

Support local journalism in these crazy days. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you up to the minute news on how Coronavirus is affecting Tampa and surrounding areas. Please consider making a one time or monthly donation to help support our staff. Every little bit helps.

Subscribe to our newsletter and follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter. 

About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at rroa@cltampa.com