Bay County commissioners will ask Florida Governor Rick Scott to declare a commercial fishery failure and request federal aid for the local oyster industry.
At Tuesday's board meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to request that Scott bring Bay County's situation to the attention of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The governor recently asked federal authorities to intervene in Franklin County and commissioners want him to add Bay County to the request.
Local oyster harvesters are already observing a lower bag limit. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reduced the daily limit to ten bags – down from 20 – for the month of October.
"Even though our bays are a lot smaller, percentage wise it's about the same as what's happening in Franklin County," said Commissioner Mike Thomas. "It would be very good for us to go ahead and try and tag on to the order that's already in effect… so that they move forward over here the same way."
If a disaster is declared, federal funds could be used to determine what happened to the fishery, begin actions to restore it to health and reimburse those affected by the crisis.