Former Chattanoogan David Haun moved to Florida to be closer to the saltwater fishing he loves so much. Here he shows off a healthy redfish taken from Apalachicola Bay. Richard Simms / WTVC News

FL - Famed Oyster Fishery Shut Down to Recover

No doubt hundreds, maybe thousands, of area anglers visit Florida's Apalachicola Bay every year to fish.

Thousands of folks who like to eat oysters - raw, fried or otherwise - have surely enjoyed Apalachicola Bay oysters at one time or another. Oysters from the bay once accounted for about 90 percent of all those harvested in Florida and 10 percent in the entire United States. In communities around Florida’s Apalachicola Bay, oyster fishing is a tradition that goes back generations.

But those days may soon be done, at least for the next five years.

Changes in water salinity, habitat loss, overfishing, and other problems have decimated oyster populations, leading to the decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to halt wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay.

The commission voted to suspend harvest in the bay starting Aug. 1. Commissioners also gave initial approval to extending the suspension through 2025. The final vote on the five-year moratorium is set for October.

They believe a harvest suspension will help protect what is left of the wild oyster reefs so they have a chance to repopulate while also giving fishery managers, scientists, and stakeholders time to fully develop a recovery plan.

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