TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that he has asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) to open the summer oyster harvesting area in the Apalachicola Bay system now in response to the oil leak out in the Gulf of Mexico.
The summer oyster area is normally open for harvest 92 days each year beginning June 1, so the request by Bronson is to move up the timetable by 11 days. The winter harvesting area will officially close May 31.
This is the first time that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has made such a request, Bronson noted. He said he was doing so to make sure that oystermen have sufficient time to work that area of the bay in the event that the oil leak impacts Apalachicola Bay. The Commissioner’s request to the FWCC comes in response to requests of his agency from the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners, the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association, and the Apalachicola Bay Oyster Dealers Association to open the summer harvesting area as soon as possible.
Department staff will continue to closely monitor Apalachicola Bay water quality and oyster harvesting, handling and processing to ensure oysters are safe to consume.
“This action should be viewed by the citizens of Florida and those throughout the country that Gulf of Mexico seafood in restaurants and markets is safe,” Bronson said. “With demand for safe Gulf oysters at a peak, opening the summer harvesting area a little early will benefit both our oyster industry and consumers alike.”