FSU receives grant to restore Apalachicola Bay's struggling oyster industry
Florida State University has received $8 million to study how to revive the Apalachicola Bay.
The 10-year project, dubbed the Apalachicola Bay Systems Initiative, will be housed at FSU’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory and will work to rehabilitate the community’s oyster industry.
Sandra Brooke, the lab’s scientific director, said that research will be an important first step to bringing life back to the crippled industry.
“When the oysters go away, the ecosystem changes,” said Brooke. “So, we first need to understand what is going on in the bay, and then we can move forward with developing a restoration plan.”
Funding for the project will come from a grant from Triumph Gulf Coast.
Triumph is a nonprofit corporation created by the Florida Legislature to oversee the disbursement of $2 billion received by the state from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement.
FSU is kicking in an additional $1.5 million of its own money for the research.
Backers of the proposal included the National Wildlife Federation and the Apalachicola Bay Oyster Management group, among others.
The funding was not without opposition. In a December letter, the Florida Shellfish Aquaculture Association spelled out concerns over whether FSU’s plan would put the university in competition with private businesses.
“The FSU proposal indicates that the funding would be used to produce oyster spat or seed for aquaculture and restoration,” wrote Heath Davis, the association’s chair. “Private Florida businesses are currently producing oyster spat for those same purposes, and FSU would be directly competing with these private businesses by the terms of its proposal.”
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