Task force formed to address Apalachicola Bay oyster fishery collapse

Florida Sea Grant heads up a task force to examine the collapse of the oyster fishery in Apalachicola.

Victor Garrido, left, a research coordinator with Florida Sea Grant’s seafood safety program, discusses frozen oysters with Apalachicola seafood processor Grady Leavins, center, and Bill Mahan, Franklin County Sea Grant agent. Florida Sea Grant is leading a task force to examine the collapse of the area’s oyster harvest. (UF/IFAS photo)

Responding to the oyster fishery collapse in Apalachicola Bay, Florida Sea Grant and experts with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will join forces with local seafood producers to find ways of restoring sustainable populations of the area’s world-famous oysters.

“We’re extremely concerned and want to help however we can,” said Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “An estimated 2,500 people work in Franklin County’s oyster industry and businesses closely allied with it. Many of them are now wondering how to put food on the table.”

Payne announced formation of the UF Oyster Recovery Task Force and named Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens to lead it.

The task force has multiple priorities, including learning why oyster populations declined, finding ways to help them bounce back, and identifying solutions for social and economic impacts, Havens said.

Apalachicola has long hosted UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant oyster and ecosystem research projects. It’s home to a UF laboratory dedicated to post-harvest processing that safeguards raw oysters from Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, he said.

More information on this story can be accessed at University of Florida News.

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Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program that supports research, education and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for the people of Florida. We are a partnership between the Florida Board of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Florida's citizens and governments. Our extension, education and outreach programs are done in partnership with UF/IFAS Extension and coastal counties of Florida. Inquiries may be directed to Dorothy Zimmerman, Communications Director.