Is the Seafood Industry Selling Out?

Drastic times call for drastic measures. That's what many seafood processors on the Gulf are saying as they sell out to developers, but do the buyouts mean an end to the oyster industry?

We asked that question in East Point and the answer was very emotional.

Some believe East Point needs a million dollar makeover. Others say the carrot dangling must stop before all the processing plants fold and the seafood industry is history.

Kenneth Shiver has scoured the bay for 60 years in search of Apalachicola pearls. Tonging for oysters is his livelihood, but there's rough seas ahead, worse than storm battered oyster houses, worse than hundreds of jobs lost.

For many natives of East Point, these signs are a nightmare threatening to take over the waterfront. That's why property owners are acting fast.

Bevin Putnal, County Commissioner of Franklin County, says, “They are talking about mixing residential in the seafood district where there is limited space. Imagine building a residence on top an oyster house. That's what folks are asking for, anything just to keep their business afloat.”

And that's just one request. Another is to move all the oyster, shrimp and fish houses into an industrial park off the water and further inland.

Alan Pierce, Franklin County planner, says, “If we do that we want unique character so it just isn't converted to a standard waterfront.”

It’s a waterfront much like their neighbors’, where condos clutter the view.

A county workshop was held Monday evening in Franklin County. At issue is whether to allow residential units in a C-1 zone designed for commercial fishing.