Franklin County Oyster Shortage Hits Bay County Seafood Businesses

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Panama City Beach- Shuckums Oyster Bar in Panama City Beach is known for their fresh Apalachicola oysters, that is when they have them in stock.

A recent decline in Franklin County's oyster production has the restaurant scrambling to keep the shellfish on its menu.
"We've been on the phone a whole lot more ourselves pulling every string we can pull," said restaurant owner Mack Carter.

Carter said his distributers have almost doubled their prices since last week, forcing him to pass the increase on to customers.

"Three dollars a dozen we've increased the price. It's been the most dramatic price increase I think I've ever experienced," said Carter.

Carter's not alone. The situation at Hunt's Oyster Bar in St. Andrews seems more desperate. Manager Debbie Long said they've ran out of oysters several times in the past month, cutting business in half on those oyster-less days.

"Say I take in 900 or a thousand dollars in sales myself, when I'm without oysters, my sales are probably going to be three to 500 dollars," said Long.

This shortage is also about more than just the financial impact because like Hunt's, an oyster represents more than just a dollar sign.

"This area is losing a part of its history," commented NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

"Yes, that's very much true," said Long.

Hunt's has been in business for decades, so Long said she's not worried about closing, but without oysters she's not so sure about profits.

"I'm afraid you would lose a lot without your oysters. They mean a lot," said Long.

Nobody knows exactly what's causing the shortage, and the unknown is making it difficult to come up with any possible solutions. Some blame the BP oil spill, others say it was Hurricane Isaac.

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