Oyster Research Study Sheds Light on Alarming Shortage

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Apalachicola Bay- For the oystermen and concerned residents at Thursday's meeting in Apalachicola, the message wasn't good.

"The outlook is tricky to say and that's what makes everybody anxious," said UF Professor Andy Kane.

Officials from the University of Florida's Extension Office released new findings into Franklin County's alarming oyster shortage, the research three months in the making.

"Certain types of annalid worms, as well as boring clams and sponges, and they actually bore into the shell of the oysters and they can weaken the shell," said Kane.

Kane said the culprits are a result of more salt in the water. But what's causing the increased salinity? Many blame the federal government for diverting water out of the area. And they won't be getting any help from mother nature this winter. Forecasters are predicting little to no relief from the drought.

Franklin County Seafood Workers Association President and fellow oysterman Shannon Hartsfield said Thursday's meeting was somewhat frustrating, the new data only validating what he said he already knew.

"We've seen it. We're there everyday. We've seen it," said Hartsfield.

He wasn't alone. Hartsfield and other seafood workers whose patience is running out announced the formation of a new group Thursday, the Seafood Management Assistance Resource and Recovery Team, or S.M.A.R.R.T., their answer to coming up with a solution. S.M.A.R.R.T. officially launches January 9th.

"The purpose of it is to regulate this bay, manage this bay, and keep it healthy," said Hartsfield.

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