Federal Lawsuit Giving Hope to Apalachicola Oyster Industry

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FRANKLIN COUNTY - Gone are the days when oystermen would bring in at least a dozen bushels. Oystermen say the entire oyster industry has been grim lately, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We're still having a little bit of kill off, but not like it was and all. The biggest thing we need is water and that's it. We need water and it'll come back itself,"Matt Polus, an oysterman said.

Earlier this month, Governor Rick Scott filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia, asking the high court to force the state to share more fresh water.

Florida has been in a legal dispute with Georgia for more than two decades.

"It will probably just keep going, but we got to make a stand somewhere. We got to get their attention and let them know that it is going to starve out an industry,"Lynn Martina, an Apalachicola business owner said.

The issue is that the fresh water from Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River in Georgia isn't making it to the Apalachicola river, according to Fish and Wildlife Conservation officials.

That means higher salt levels in the Apalachicola Bay and less oysters.

"What they say in Georgia is what falls in Georgia, stays in Georgia. So I think that's a big thing to take on. I don't think they're going to get it," Polus said.

Although oystermen aren't sure the federal lawsuit will change much, they say they're keeping hope the industry will turn around soon.

At one point, Apalachicola Bay supplied 10% of the nation's eastern oyster supply.