Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture launched the field portion of its newest aquaculture education program Wednesday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced.
Students from the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast deployed 10 oyster cages containing 21,000 oysters on a commercial aquaculture lease in the Apalachicola Bay alongside Jeff Wren and Todd Brackin, who own and operate Rattlesnake Cove Oyster Company.
The students will maintain the cages, tend to the oysters and document their experience along the way until the bivalves are ready to harvest next year. They will share their accomplishments through social media and public events in the Apalachicola Bay area.
“This program is a great opportunity for young Floridians to learn about our state’s oyster industry and how to become responsible stewards of our natural resources,” Fried said. “By teaching these students the importance of shellfish aquaculture, we are also working to restore the Apalachicola Bay oyster population and ensure that Florida oysters can be enjoyed for generations to come. This is a great partnership for Florida’s future.”
Apalachicola Bay at one point produced more than 90% of oysters harvested in the state, though a variety of factors — including the so-called “water war” with Georgia — led the region’s oyster industry to the point of near collapse. Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission banned wild oyster harvests in the area to allow oyster beds to recover.
“This project will teach our students about oyster habitat and what is happening in the Bay, get the students out in the field to learn how oyster farming works, and see if aquaculture is a career path they would be interested in. One of the most important skills the students will gain is monitoring and analyzing the growth of the oysters we deployed today. It will be really great to have our own oysters to harvest next year,” said Ethan Frazier, a crew leader with Conservation Corps.
Division of Aquaculture Director Portia Sapp added, “This program is a critical first step to educate and train students about shellfish aquaculture and to communicate the importance of good stewardship and the preservation of working waterfronts. We are excited to partner with the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast and the Apalachicola NERR and look forward to expanding our collaborative relationship in the future.”
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Quote of the Day
“This new report makes clear that the university feared retaliation and the withholding of state funds so much so that it created a culture of suppression in order to appease our Governor. We need to get to the bottom of how exactly it happened, and it must be stopped.” — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, about a report on political influence at the University of Florida.
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