Apalachicola Seafood Industry Struggling

Hurricanes and red tide are wreaking havoc on the local economies of rural panhandle counties. Apalachicola bay is closed to oystering. Add a scarcity of tourists and some residents are having trouble making ends meet.

Missing from Apalachicola Bay are the dozens if not hundreds of oystermen.Their boats remain tethered. The bay closed first by hurricanes and now red tide.

James Shiver says life is more difficult.

"We struggle a lot to pay bills, ah, I struggle a lot to keep groceries in the house, but I mean me and my wife have been blessed. We have."

Others like Fred Kilgore have turned to catching mullet, but say that the cost of gas and net restrictions make it hard to make a buck.

"Like it is, we’ll only get, like $75 worth of fish on this trip."

Louisiana and Texas are also closed to oystering, and that's had the effect of putting virtually every oyster house in Apalachicola out of business for the last two weeks, making unemployment here even worse.

Since Hurricane Dennis hit in July, the bay has been open just a handful of days.

At Island View Seafood, Mike Millender says the closure is having a ripple effect on the local economy. He also says there is a sentiment that Gov. Jeb Bush could be doing more.

"Governor, we need help down here. We've needed help since Dennis left. He needs to be letting people know that Florida is still here. It’s still safe to come down here."

Even though people here are feeling pain, they do take solace knowing that devastating Katrina, which once took aim for here, spared them what they had left after Dennis.


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