Top Ten: oysters

Published: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 14:31 PM.

The approval allowed Spring Creek to use the full water column for oyster harvesting in cages suspended above the bottom, a space richer in nutrients, protected from predators and more easily accessible to the leaseholders.

Franklin County commissioners had reviewed the Lovels’ proposal, and raised some questions, although they lacked authority to approve or deny the proposed modifications.

In October, the Florida Cabinet approved a single oyster farming lease in the Apalachicola Bay, and Franklin County officials and an oystermen representative aren’t happy about it. Andrew Arnold applied for the lease, located in St. George Sound, part of the Apalachicola Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the county commissioners were not too pleased with the Cabinet’s decision.

Cal Knickerbocker, head of the state’s aquaculture division, said the state has received two additional requests by clam leaseholders in Alligator Harbor to use the full water column. He reiterated the state has no plans to move forward with large-scale aquaculture in Apalachicola Bay.

Franklin County Seafood Workers Association  President Shannon Hartsfield was beyond concerned about the approved lease for Apalachicola Bay and down-right mad.  “It will not help us at all,” he said.

Hartsfield worried farming oysters will hurt the industry because there’s no money to be made. Startup costs are $15,000 to $20,000, but a lease yields no more than $12,000 and $16,000 a year, he said, and oystermen already make $36,000 to $60,000 annually.

Knickerbocker said the National Academy of Sciences is undertaking a yearlong, baywide study “trying to determine a path forward, a future for the bay. They’re looking for permanent fixes, rather than short-term temporary issues.”

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