Apalachicola, FL - Times are tough on Florida’s Forgotten Coast. A water war with Georgia, the BP Oil Spill, Tropical Storm Debbie and recent droughts are killing its world famous oysters.
Scenes like this where oyster-men rake in a boatload of rocks are few and far between. Today the oysters are smaller and harder to find.
Monday Governor Rick Scott announced plans to help save Apalachicola Bay, the area where 90 percent of Florida’s oysters are harvested.
“We will work to clean this ecosystem so it provides clean water for our oysters,” said Scott.
Currently Scott has launched state efforts to move oysters from dangerous areas to safer waters. His new three million dollar plan calls for half a million dollars to be spent studying the problem and finding a solution.
“I’m putting money in my budget to make sure that we deal with trying to improve the number of oysters that can be harvested here and making sure that we get people back to work,” said Scot.
Here in Franklin County the main concern is jobs connected to the oyster industry but people around the state and across the nation are more concerned about the price and availability of the slimy seafood.
“Quiet frankly it won’t be a question of the price of the oysters. It will be a question of can we even get them,” State Senator Bill Montford said.
Montford was on hand for the governor’s announcement. Montford represents the Forgotten Coast and says the oyster problem is cause for concern statewide.
“We owe it to the people of Florida we owe it to the people of this country to be able to preserve what we have,” said Montford.
While most of the problems facing the oyster population are known, the study hopes to better define how storm water runoff and dams upstream have impacted the oysters’ natural environment.
Florida’s oyster prices have been on the rise since the BP Oil Spill and are up about 30 percent since the disaster.