Donald Kelley, from Southport, front, secures his Apalachicola Bay oyster harvesting and saltwater products licenses at Apalachicola’s City Hall June 28, the last day oystermen can obtain licensure for the $100 fee. After that, there’s a $500 late fee. At back, is Stephen Bauer from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDOACS) who, along with Apalachicola city staff, helped handle applicants.
According to City Clerk Deborah Guillotte, the city processed just 300 licenses, well below the 496 last year. Carrie Jones, with FDOACS, said the total is the lowest in recent years, and follows a steady drop since a high of 1,561 in 2013. In 2014, the number was 1,291; in 2015 it was 1,170, in 2016 it was 914, and in 2017 it was 795.