by Georgia Ackerman, Riverkeeper
July 22, 2020–Today, members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission made a tough decision. Wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay will be suspended for up to five years, until 2025, while extensive oyster restoration efforts by FWC staff get underway.
We all want a thriving Apalachicola Bay abundant with healthy wild oysters, including oyster reefs that provide critical refuge, feeding grounds, and nursery habitat to many other ecologically important fish and invertebrate species, and feeding habitat for shorebirds.
We want a sustainable wild oyster harvest with a return of oyster boats on the horizon and Apalachicola’s famous oysters back on the menu.
The ecology and economy of the Apalachicola region are inextricably linked. I’m told repeatedly by people in the commercial fishing industry, “Take care of Apalachicola Bay and it will take care of you.” Today, the pause button was hit, allowing wild oysters to grow, reproduce, filter water, and build their complex reefs that protect our shorelines from erosion and provide habitat for numerous other species. These ecosystem engineers are indeed remarkable, but they’ve been in decline for too long.
The opportunity to save Apalachicola Bay is within reach. Suspending wild oyster harvesting was an essential step in protecting and restoring the health and productivity of the entire Apalachicola Bay. It was a tough decision. It was also the right decision.
Here’s FWC presentation on Apalachicola Bay oyster status.
Here’s the Summary of the wild oyster harvest suspension.
Here’s Draft Rule that passed unanimously.
Here’s our previous blog on the issue.
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