Grant Looks to Aid Recovery Effort in Franklin County

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Apalachicola, FL, December 6, 2012 - Like many restaurants scattered along Florida's coast, Veranda's Bistro in Apalachicola serves up plenty of fresh seafood.

But some say those meaty mollusks the bay is known for may become harder to find.

"You were able to catch 20 bags a person. Now five bags is a good day," says Shannon Hartsfield, president of Franklin County Seafood Workers Association.

Florida's Governor Rick Scott announced that Franklin County will receive a $2.7 million dollar grant to help improve the oyster beds there. But some say the biggest thing that can be done to improve these beds is improving the access to fresh water.

Hartsfield says an overworked bay that's been pounded by tropical storms has put a strain on the seafood industry and the growth in these beds. But Hartsfield believes getting more fresh water to flow south from Georgia into the bay will fix it.

"These oysters thrive off the nutrients come out of the river. And without these nutrients, they don't spawn like they should," says Hartsfield.

There is also a community collaboration underway known as 'SMARRT' or the Seafood Management Assistance Resource and Recovery Team.

It will work to make Apalachicola Bay and its resources more sustainable for future generations by improving communication among those who live and work near the bay and by identifying problems facing the bay and coming up with collaborative solutions for them.

SMARRT is only in its infancy. The group says it is still looking for funding to get it off of the ground.

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