Oyster Industry Continues To Struggle

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

By: Mike Vasilinda
November 25, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - At this Tallahassee seafood market just 80 miles from what used to be the world famous oyster producing Apalachicola bay, these oysters are from Texas.

It’s gotten so that this seafood market doesn’t even bother trying to get Apalachicola oysters anymore because they are simply too difficult to get.

When times were good, Apalachicola oystermen were limited to 20 bags a day. They supplied ten percent of the nations oysters and demand always outstripped supply. They wish they could be so lucky these days. “We starving to death, God bless y’all,” says Kenny Rucker, Oysterman.

While two bags a day is now the norm, it could get worse. Low oyster count force Fish and Wildlife regulators to close the bay on weekends. “The idea is to give the, the bay a little bit of a break from harvest and hopefully that would help increase the numbers in future years,” says Amanda Nally, FWC Spokesperson.

The Seafood Workers Association President wants to see harvesting shut down completely and the oystermen put back to work replanting shells. “I like to see the bay close and the oystermen go in and restore our bay. That way we could still sustain our living here,” says Shannon Hartsfield, Pres. Apalachicola Seafood Workers Assn.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the bay is wrongly playing second fiddle to other water issues in the state. “Apalachicola bay needs to be an all hands on deck approach,” says Adam Putnam, Agriculture Commissioner.

And the shortage of Apalachicola oysters is pushing up the price of oysters from everywhere, nearly doubling what consumers pay for a dozen.

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