Franklin County, Florida- September 6, 2012
Oyster levels in Apalachicola Bay are described as being at disastrously low levels. So low, there was an emergency meeting called tonight.
Says Oysterman Shannon Hartsfield: "Sunday was a disaster. When we got out there, and everybody running around trying to find something, it was disaster."
State and federal officials listened to commissioners and oystermen as they described the dire situation in the Apalachicola Bay. Experts say it's a combination of factors, including Tropical Storm Debby, Hurricane Isaac, and possibly issues relating to the BP Oil Spill.
Says Pincki Jackel, with the Franklin County Board of Commissioners: "The reality of the situation is so bad for Franklin County that it's not a time for pointing fingers. It's really a time for getting together, holding hands, and seeking solutions."
With forty percent of Franklin County's employment coming from the seafood industry, the consequences can be huge.
Oysterman John Crum: "No money. We ain't making any money. Probably just enough to pay the light bill. It's only gonna get worse before it gets better. If we're catching four bags a day now, working as long as you can, I believe by Christmas you might catch half a bag. Cause there's nothing to grow and take it's place."
Governor Scott has declared the Bay a disaster area. Officials are waiting for a ruling from the Secretary of Commerce. They hope to get funding to help the workers through this difficult time.
"Speed the process up. It's taking too long for state officials to get down here and do something. We need help now. Not down the road. Something's gotta be done today," says Shannon.