Commercial oyster harvest on the summer oyster bars of Apalachicola Bay waters will be shortened from seven days a week to five days a week starting June 1, when the summer bars open to harvest.
Bay oyster populations have suffered mainly due to lack of freshwater flow over the past few years.
This temporary rule was established via executive order of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). State officials, working with the oyster industry, concluded that these changes would help conserve oyster resources throughout the summer harvesting season and serve as a proactive measure to balance availability of harvestable oysters with efforts to restore oyster populations.
Commercial harvest of oysters will be closed on Fridays and Saturdays. The temporary rule will expire Aug. 31, when the summer bars close and the winter oyster bars reopen for harvest. All other bag limits, seasons and size limits remain unchanged.
ApalachicolaBay includes all waters within St. George Sound, East Bay, Apalachicola Bay, St. Vincent Sound in Franklin County and Indian Lagoon in Gulf County. This change does not apply to active oyster leases or recreational harvest.
ApalachicolaBay oysters account for about 92 percent of Florida’s oyster landings and about 8 percent of all landings in the United States (average from 2007-2011).
This closure is one of many efforts from various state and local agencies to help rebuild and conserve the important oyster population in Apalachicola Bay. Other efforts have included relocating oysters from closed areas to open areas and adding shell to existing oyster bars, which provides a base on which juvenile oysters can build.
The FWC will continue to coordinate closely with the oyster industry and local community and agency partners to evaluate current and future measures needed to help address these concerns regarding oyster resources in Apalachicola Bay and other important oyster-producing areas along Florida’s Gulf coast.
To view the Executive Order, visit MyFWC.com/About and click on “Inside FWC,” “Executive Director” and “Executive Orders.”