Skip to main content

Can Culturing Oysters Be Part of the Fishery Recovery?

cage growing oysters

Extensive methods of oyster farming have been promoted in various forms and under changing laws for over 100 years in Florida. (UF/IFAS photo)

What: A Conversation About Oyster Aquaculture
When: Monday, July 29, 2013, 2 to 5 p.m.
Where: Community Center, Apalachicola

Seeking insights into the pros and cons of growing oysters, Apalachicola's commercial oyster industry has asked members of the University of Florida Oyster Recovery Team to a question-and-answer discussion on Monday, July 29, 2013, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Apalachicola Community Center. The program is open to the public.

Recent changes in state rules governing shellfish aquaculture in Franklin County have stimulated new discussions about growing oysters to supplement the traditional, wild-caught harvest, according to Karl Havens, director of Florida Sea Grant and the leader of the UF oyster recovery team.

While it is too soon to know if those changes will translate into financial success, culturing oysters remains a demanding and relatively unproven business, Havens said.

“The members of the UF team with expertise in aquaculture methods and economics will answer questions about all aspects of its feasibility.”

In June, the Florida Cabinet modified state regulations to allow owners of two existing oyster aquaculture leases in Franklin County to locate growing cages up off the bottom and into the full water column. The experimental technique applies to just two existing aquaculture leases of 1.5 acres each in Alligator Harbor, near St. Teresa Beach.

Apalachicola Bay's commercial oyster fishery is trying to recover after extended droughts in 2011 and 2012 dramatically decreased one of the nation's most productive fisheries. The UF recovery team recommended a long-term plan for future monitoring, research and management to restore the Bay's oyster populations to historic levels.

The team also recommended a large-scale restoration of the bay’s degraded oyster reefs as a top priority to accelerate oyster recovery.

The meeting is hosted by SMARRT, the Seafood Management Assistance Resource and Recovery Team. There will be no formal presentations, just informal questions and answers.