Commissioner of Agriculture Adam. H. Putnam and the Florida Cabinet today voted to approve expansion of aquaculture leases in Franklin County that will enable Spring Creek Oyster Company to use the full water column to grow oysters, the first enterprise of its kind in an area where the wild oyster industry is struggling.
"This new oyster farming technique could be one of the keys to saving the oyster industry in Florida," Commissioner Putnam said. "We're hopeful it will increase productivity, create jobs and supplement traditional oyster harvests."
Franklin County's wild oyster industry in the Apalachicola Bay has declined substantially in recent years. Spring Creek Oyster Company recently began experimenting with the cultivation of oysters in cages to serve at its Spring Creek Restaurant in Crawfordville. The oysters were farmed on the company's current submerged land leases used for clams in Alligator Harbor.
Spring Creek Oyster Company requested approval of the Florida Cabinet for use of the full water column to suspend oyster cages. This places the oysters in the most nutrient-rich part of the water, which reduces predators, shortens the grow-out time and improves survival rates.
The two leases that were modified today are 1.5 acres each in the Alligator Harbor Aquaculture Use Zone near St. Teresa Beach in Franklin County. Spring Creek is currently in compliance with the terms of the two leases, which expire in 2022, and with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Aquaculture Best Management Practices. The proposed changes will not have adverse impacts to existing shellfish beds or other natural habitats.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.
Information provided by the Commission of Agriculture