APALACHICOLA — A newly released report on Apalachicola Bay's oyster situation is long on analysis but short on solutions, recommending more studies and confirming the conventional wisdom that the fishery is in dire straits.
The study by the University of Florida Oyster Recovery Team, which has been assessing the oyster situation since October 2012, backs up lawmakers' and researchers' claims that water flow down the Apalachicola River is the key ingredient to a healthy fishery. For years, Florida has squabbled in a "water war" with neighboring states, particularly Georgia, to release more water out of suburban Atlanta's Lake Lanier, which feeds the river and ultimately the bay.
The study states the bay had high salinity in 2012 caused by low river flow and "limited local rainfall in most months." In fact, the lower part of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-FlintRiver Basinhas been in "exceptional drought" over the last three years, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.
Thus, problems have set in and appear to be here for the long haul.
"The 2012 decline in oyster landings and recruitment of juvenile oysters is unprecedented during the period of data analyzed and has likely involved recruitment failure or high mortality of small oysters," the study states.
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