APALACHICOLA (FBW)—Although most of Florida can only speculate about the impact of a looming environmental disaster from a the recent oil spill in the gulf, communities bordering Apalachicola Bay are in the midst of an environmental and economic crisis that had already decimated businesses and families who look to the Bay for their income. First Baptist Church in Carabelle, a congregation of 80 in a tiny coastal village of 2,000, this year organized “Oyster-Aid” to help those in its community dependent on the struggling oyster industry.
The Apalachicola Bay, with a unique blend of waters of the Gulf of Mexico and rivers that flow into it from Alabama and Georgia, produces oysters that some say are the best in the world.
Storms, droughts, floods and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ restrictions on water flow from Georgia resulted in frequent closings of the Bay to harvesting oysters, however. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection has severely restricted harvesting during the current “season,” from October through May, because of water temperature and salinity, according to Carabelle Pastor Mark Mercer.
“This season the Bay has been closed more days than it has been open, and oystermen can only go out when the D.E.P. says they can. They have no say in it,” Mercer said. “Right now the deck is stacked against them, but they keep pressing on.”
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