Oyster Harvesting to Halt on Weekends

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APALACHICOLA -- Apalachicola Bay produces about 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and contributes 10 percent to the nation's supply.

But for the next few months oyster men won't be able to harvest any on the weekends.

Brett Gromley is a chef at up the Creek Raw Bar. Daily, he prepares hundreds of oysters.

But after this weekend, Gromley fears the restaurant he works at may be in trouble.

"I wanna have enough product on hand for the customers that are expecting to eat oysters in Apalachicola,” Gromley said.

Starting November 23 there will be no more oyster harvesting on Saturdays and Sundays until March 31, 2014.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issues an automatic bay closure when there are less than 300 bags of oysters per acre.

Right now the commission estimates there are fewer than 225 bags.

Workers are most concerned about those busy weekends when they are more likely to run out of oysters.

Bromley says the bar can go through hundreds of boxes of oysters in one weekend.

When there is a harvesting limit, serving that many oysters can be detrimental to oyster bars and the gulf.

"That's one of the main reasons they come here is to enjoy you know, what were famous for and if we run out, we don't have that product available they you know we all look bad,” said Gromley.

Up the Creek Customer Eddie Lueken, "It would be one of the great tragedies of the country. Now I feel sorry for the people that make their living they oyster guys, I feel sorry for us because oyster bars aren't going to be near as fun."

Apalachicola Bay will remain open for aquaculture leases or recreational harvests until it reopens for full harvesting in March.