The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has extended a shutdown on wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through the end of 2025.
The commission had initially issued an emergency shutdown that went into effect Aug. 1. The extension, which passed unanimously at the commission’s meeting Wednesday, bans on-the-water harvesting equipment such as tongs – long-handled baskets used to scoop oysters.
During the shutdown, a $17 million restoration project to restore 1000 acres of oyster habitat will be conducted. In recent years, the harvesting of oysters, once robust enough to provide 10 percent of the country’s supply, had smaller yields, due to low water flow into the bay and diminished natural reefs.
In announcing the ruling, the commission noted that the ban could be lifted sooner if conditions improve.