EASTPOINT, Fla. — Florida’s oyster industry appears near collapse and needs help to survive, including getting more fresh water into Apalachicola Bay from Georgia, Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday.
Oysters require a mix of fresh and salt water to survive. Drought is contributing to the problem, according to state agriculture officials.
In jeopardy are as many as 2,500 jobs in Franklin County in the Florida Panhandle that either are directly or indirectly impacted by the oyster industry. Florida officials said that during last year’s harvesting season, nearly 2.4 million pounds of oyster meat came out of Apalachicola Bay. This year, state officials say it is unlikely commercial harvesting levels can be sustained.
Florida has battled for years over the amount of water coming downstream from Georgia. But this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in the latest round of litigation, which let stand a ruling favorable to metro Atlanta.
The Chattahoochee flows south from Atlanta, forming part of the border between Alabama and Georgia. It merges with the Flint River at the Florida state line and becomes the Apalachicola River, which cuts south across the Florida Panhandle and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.