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Shuckin' Again

By: Valerie Lacy
By: Valerie Lacy

Let the oyster shucking begin. The beds are now open at Apalachicola Bay and oystermen loaded their boats to the gills with delicacies just waiting for crackers and hot sauce.

Bruce Rotella has been harvesting shellfish for 25 years. It's one of the only jobs he's known, but for the past four months the bay has been closed. Red tide was pulling money from his pocket fast.

Bruce says, "The red tide kept it closed longer than anything besides Kate and Elena. They shut it down for a couple of years."

Now that the bay's back in business, so is Bruce. He was worried that oystering wouldn't put money in the bank much longer.

Bruce adds, "Fewer oyster licenses this year than what there have been in the past. I think we only sold 600 oyster licenses."

Estimates show ocean pearls are worth around $20 million in industry here in this area. Oystermen say they lost around $5 million when the beds were closed for four months.

The good news now is the oysters are bigger and better than ever.

Lynn Martina says, "They're salty. All the customers are real excited to have Florida oysters again, so we're excited to have them back on the market."

Lynn says she sells more oysters from Louisiana than from Florida, thanks to over harvesting and red tide. She's hoping next year this bay will put Florida's oystermen back in the waters, and oysters back on our tables.


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