Apalachicola, Fl-January 19, 2013
For many people, Apalachicola means one thing: oysters.
"The oysters. That's what we came for," said Charles Holloway
who went to Apalachicola's Oyster Cook-Off. "I've been eating them all day and still eating them."
But some oystermen say a lack of fresh water flowing into the bay is hurting the oyster beds and making the meaty mollusk harder to find.
Last year, Governor Rick Scott requested the U.S. Department of Commerce declare Apalachicola Bay a fishery resource disaster.
Scott cited concerns of over fishing in addition to the lack of fresh water flowing in to the bay.
"It's a huge part of our area. It's really our heart of our basis in the seafood industry," said Shelley Shepard with the Apalachicola's Oyster Cook-Off.
Shepard helped organized Apalachicola's Oyster Cook-Off.
In its third year, the cook-off works to raise money for the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department, while showcasing the pearl of the bay, its oysters.
But this year, organizers say they worried about the potential impact the depleted oysters beds may have on the event.
"We were very concerned, actually. Last year fall, we were stressed. We were wondering if we would have to turn it into the mullet festival," said Shepard.
But Shepard says heavy rains and help from local oystermen made this year's cook-off possible.
In all, she estimates about 20, 60lb bags of oysters were consumed, or roughly a 1200lbs of seafood.