This letter is in response to the articles published in the Apalachicola Times newspaper on Oct. 3 “Oystermen plead for help,” and on Oct. 17 “New oyster lease riles county.”
First, it is no secret that the State of Georgia will continue to withhold more and more freshwater from the Apalachicola River, regardless of any civil litigation between the states. Second, oyster hatcheries and farming oysters only benefit the person growing and purchasing the oysters. They do nothing to help the public oyster beds in the Apalachicola Bay to reproduce oysters for harvesting on a long-term effect.
Third, we don’t need our government officials spending millions of taxpayer dollars to create program for scientists to study the water ecology, water science, or oyster science in the Apalachicola Bay when we already know that many of the public oyster beds in the Apalachicola Bay are not producing a sufficient stock of oysters for harvesting during their seasonal term because they are being starved of the proper amount of freshwater needed from the Apalachicola River to consistently reproduce oysters.
However, what would help the oystermen and the public oyster beds in the Apalachicola Bay to consistently reproduce oysters on a long-term effect is for our government officials to create a program that would issue monetary payments to the oystermen on a steady basis to replant all of the public oyster beds closest to the freshwater flowing from the tributaries of the Apalachicola River into the Apalachicola Bay. This would allow these public oyster beds a much better chance to receive a proper amount of freshwater from the Apalachicola River to reproduce oysters for harvesting during their seasonal term, when the Apalachicola River is flowing at its lowest and highest water levels.
At the same time, while the oystermen are harvesting oysters from those public oyster beds during their seasonal term, such would help the oysters on the other public oyster beds in the Apalachicola Bay that are being starved of freshwater not to be overharvested, and they would have a better chance to reproduce oysters for harvesting in the future.
Lastly, this is not a fix-all solution to the oyster industry in Franklin County, but it seems logical to me that we should concentrate first on replanting, on a large scale, the public oysters beds in the Apalachicola Bay closest to the freshwater flowing from the tributaries of the Apalachicola River to ensure that those oyster beds receive a proper amount of freshwater to reproduce oysters, when the Apalachicola River is flowing at its lowest and highest water levels.
Michael Wade Barfield
A native oysterman of Franklin County