Seafood workers seek lower bag limit

Shannon Hartsfield addresses the March 11 FCSWA meeting. Photo available for purchase

Shannon Hartsfield addresses the March 11 FCSWA meeting.

David Adlerstein
Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 12:28 PM.

The talk last week was about working to nurse Apalachicola Bay back to health, as seafood workers focused on ways to rejuvenate the oyster bars and get people back to work.

The Franklin County Seafood Workers Association hammered out a recommendation at its March 11 meeting to lower the daily bag limit to better spread out the harvest that begins June 1 when the summer bar open.

FCSWA President Shannon Hartsfield said the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has asked for input on the best way to control the summer harvest.

Hartsfield said the 15-member Seafood Management Assistance Recovery Team (SMART) has discussed trying to change the bag limit, and making East Hole into a summer bar. He reminded the rank-and-file who filled the courthouse annex that a five day a week season, with all oysters brought in by 2 p.m., were necessary rules.

“If we go back to seven days and don’t give this bay a chance to come back, it ain’t going to come back,” he said. “If we don’t start monitoring ourselves, we’re not going to have a bay.”

Hartsfield said the SMART group wants to recommend a daily limit well below the current 20 bags per licensed cardholder, which in July switches to 20 bags per vessel.

A voice vote indicated the oystermen want an eight bag limit per license, in June, July and August, an apparent compromise between the six- and 10-bag recommendations.

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