Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson and Chairman Rodney Barreto of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced Thursday that the summer oyster-harvesting areas in the Apalachicola Bay System will open at 12:01 a.m. Friday - 11 days early.
The summer oyster areas in Apalachicola Bay normally are open for harvest in June, July and August, and this is the first time the two agencies, which jointly manage oyster resources in Florida, have opened the summer area early.
Requests for this early harvest were received from the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners, the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association and the Apalachicola Bay Oyster Dealers Association.
“We are pleased to support Commissioner Bronson in this effort to help the hard-working people in Florida’s oyster industry,” Barreto said.
Staff of both agencies will continue to closely monitor Apalachicola Bay water quality, oyster harvest, oyster handling and oyster processing to ensure oyster resources are protected and are safe to consume.
“This action should be viewed by the people of Florida and the United States that Gulf of Mexico seafood in restaurants and markets is safe,” Bronson said. “With demand for safe Gulf oysters at a peak, this action will benefit both our oyster industry and consumers alike.”
The FWC order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on May 21 and will expire at 12:01 a.m. on June 1. All other rule provisions governing the harvest of oysters in Apalachicola Bay will remain in effect for the duration of the order.
Commercial oyster rules and other saltwater fishing regulations are available online at MyFWC.com/Rules, click on “Fishing – Saltwater.”