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Changes to Apalachicola oyster harvest

Oyster Roast Witt

For immediate release: May 13, 2014

Contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943
FWC makes temporary conservation-based changes to Apalachicola oyster harvest

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) made temporary changes today that will help conserve oyster resources in Apalachicola Bay.

These changes come at the request of the Franklin County oyster industry due to concerns about fishing pressure on some remaining open areas of the bay during water-quality closures. The initial problem is that Apalachicola Bay oysters have significantly declined in population due to lack of fresh water flow in previous years.

These proactive measures are meant to decrease the effect of concentrated fishing effort on certain areas while oyster stocks remain at low levels.

If the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) determines the area known as Cat Point and East Hole (Area 1642) should be closed to harvest due to high levels of rainfall or river flow, the FWC will then close two other shellfish harvesting areas that normally would have remained open during the winter season to circumvent fishing pressure issues on those oyster reefs.

If 1642 closes, other areas that will close too include Area 1601, which includes Porters Bar and Platform Bar, and Area 1611, which includes Bayou Flats and Pickalene Bar. If 1642 reopens, these additional areas will also reopen so long as FDACS determines the water quality in Area 1601 and 1611 is not being affected at the time by rainfall or river-flow management criteria. When there has been a large amount of rainfall or river flow, bacterial concentrations can increase, which can result in areas being closed to oyster harvest by FDACS.

These resource conservation closures and openings will remain in effect through May 31, 2014, when the winter oyster reefs close to harvest and the summer oyster reefs open.

Learn more about commercial oyster harvest by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater”, “Commercial Regulations” and “Oysters.”