— The daily harvest of oyster in Apalachicola Bay will be drastically reduced, under new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ruled announced last week.
The changes run from now through Aug. 31.
Because Apalachicola Bay oysters have significantly declined in population due to lack of freshwater flow in previous years, these changes are intended to help the oyster population recover from the effects of low river flow.
The FWC worked with the Franklin County oyster industry to implement the temporary changes, and the industry agrees the measures are a way to ensure the long-range health of the industry.
“The FWC is supporting us and they’re listening to us,” said Shannon Hartsfield, president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association.
Hartsfield said his organization asked for some of the changes, including the harvest limits and closure of some areas, and that they are happy with the new regulations.
The changes include:
• Prohibiting commercial and recreational harvest of oysters in the area commonly known as East Hole;
• Lowering the daily commercial harvest and possession limit from 20 to eight bags (each bag is equivalent to 60 pounds or two five-gallon buckets) of oysters in the shell per person;
• Lowering the daily recreational harvest, vessel and possession limit to five gallons of oysters in the shell (previously two bags per day with one bag being equivalent to 60 pounds or two five-gallon buckets);
• Prohibiting commercial oyster harvests on Fridays and Saturdays.
All other harvest regulations remain in effect