FWC Inspects Oyster Harvesters

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By: Elizabeth Nickerson
October 29, 2013

Franklin County, FL- Around coastal communities near the Apalachicola Bay, oyster shells are sprinkled along the shore.

Oystermen rely on the catch of the day to feed their families. They have been doing it for generations.

"Not much out here right now, I don't know what needs to be done, but something needs to be done," said an oystermen, while out in the bay. " The marine patrol is around us, hard timing us, it's just a hard time right now."

"If we are here we are harassing them, If we are not here we are not doing enough about enforcement, so it puts law enforcement, the FWC, in a lose, lose situation," said Captain Rob Beaton from The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

FWC set out for a two-day patrol to make sure harvesters are following regulations.

"Some harvesters are facing some tough economic times and they are saying they are being forced because of the financial situation," said Beaton.

Captain Beaton says some harvesters are not shading the oysters, which causes them to grow bacteria. He has seen many cases where the oysters were too small to be snatched from the waters. The requirement is three inches minimum.

Captain Beaton says his team is trying to preserve the waters for the future

"We want to ensure that there is consumer confidence on oysters coming from this bay and that people look at this area as a top place to get oysters," said Beaton.

For more information about rules and regulations on commercial fishing or oyster harvesting log on to: www.myfwc.com

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