April 8, 2009

Heavy Rains Stop Oyster Harvest

The Department’s Division of Aquaculture, which regulates Florida’s oyster industry, has closed all areas approved for oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay, except one area on the extreme West end of the bay. That area opened at sunrise this morning.

The recent heavy rains in our area caused the Apalachicola River to rise and have driven large volumes of fresh water into Apalachicola Bay. This negatively affects the local oyster industry because too much fresh water and the subsequent pollutants in the runoff make the oysters unsafe for human consumption. The Division tests the waters every other day to determine quality. Once the quality of the water is adequate the harvesting areas will be re-opened.

Unless the river continues to rise the oyster resource will remain unharmed. If the river rises above the 20 foot mark, the oysters may be in danger. The Army Corps of Engineers does not expect the water to rise much more so the outlook is good. Overall the oysters actually benefit from this and other natural cycles because the fresh water drives away the oyster’s natural saltwater predators.

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