Apalachicola Bay oyster and fishing industries learned today how they would share in $6.3 million of disaster assistance funding to support recovery from the devastation from extreme drought conditions in the both the bay and Florida Panhandle.
Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday the breakdown of funds slated for programs to help the region move forward in developing sustainable fisheries and fishing communities.
Scott announced last month Florida would receive $6.3 million in federal disaster relief funding for communities devastated by the collapse of the oyster harvesting industry in Apalachicola Bay.
“In addition to bolstering their industry,” Scott said, “this funding will be used to provide vocational and educational training for oystermen and their families, so they are able to support their families for generations to come.”
Apalachicola Bay projects will focus on four different areas, subject to final approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
$4,569,767 for Apalachicola Bay Habitat Improvement
Apalachicola Bay will be “reshelled”— adding oyster shells to existing oyster reefs—considered an established habitat improvement practice. Young oyster larvae need hard surfaces onto which to settle after spawning. The project will hire fishermen to conduct shelling operations.
$415,473 for Monitoring of the Wild Apalachicola Bay Oyster Population
The oyster population will be monitored to help gauge the success of shelling programs, and so that the fishery can be adaptively managed as the oyster population recovers.
$563,233 for Vocational and Educational Training for Apalachicola Bay Oyster Industry Workers
This plan will provide vocational and educational training to those in the oyster industry for a greater variety of career opportunities.
$768,060 for Apalachicola Bay Processor Facilities Upgrades
To remain viable, necessary upgrades in oyster processing facilities are required. These funds would go to cost reimbursement agreements with wholesale dealers to make improvements, based on losses incurred during the disaster.