The Florida Channel interviewed Dr. Sandra Brooke who is the Principal Investigator of ABSI. Learn about the causes of the Bay’s ecosystem decline and what measures are needed for wild-caught oysters to return. Click the link below to watch the interview!
By Susan B. Barnes for Garden and Gun In 2020, the Apalachicola Bay oysters were so depleted that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionclosed wild oyster harvest for five years to allow populations to recover. The wild harvest moratorium began in December 2020; if the moratorium is lifted, it will be in January 2026. I chatted with Dr. Sandra Brooke, research faculty at Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Lab and lead investigator on Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI), about the likelihood of success.
In early May, the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI) completed its second round of oyster reef restoration experiments. With the help of almost 20 local oystermen and women, they were able to effectively deploy 416 cubic yards of limerock, 416 cubic yards of concrete, and 96 cubic yards of shell into the Cat Point area of Apalachicola.
Dr. Sandra Brooke Guest Columnist In 2013, the Apalachicola Bay wild oyster fishery was declared a federal fishery disaster, which precipitated significant funding for research and restoration. Despite these efforts, monitoring data collected from historic oyster bars and several cultching (shelling) projects across the bay show that oyster populations are still very depleted.
Subtidal tonging surveys have concluded, and preliminary results show more oysters (mostly juveniles) on the east side of the Bay during 2021-22 than the previous year, but fewer on the west side than in 2021. Read more...
The ABSI core research team is halfway through another season of subtidal oyster sampling (tonging). The data collected will contribute to understanding of wild oyster presence/absence, density, and size class across Apalachicola Bay. Read more...
Dr. Sandra Brooke authors article for Guy Harvey Magazine "Where Have All the Oysters Gone?" Read about the ABSI project, current research initiatives in Apalachicola Bay, and the causes of decline of oysters worldwide.
Emily White, a high school junior from Peachtree City, Georgia, developed a passion for the ocean and marine conservation at a young age, especially after visiting Apalachicola in 2018 on a field trip lead by her Dad, the science coordinator for Coweta County Schools. What struck Emily the most about the Apalachicola Bay region was the respect and relationship between the local community and the Bay. “You have this really rich Bay environment that also supports the people of the town…some people don’t understand the direct connection between their environments and their livelihoods so it was really cool to see this entire community of people who really understand that.”
The effort to help Florida’s troubled Apalachicola Bay and its famous oysters cleared a key hurdle on November 16th. The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI) Community Advisory Board (CAB) unanimously adopted the framework document for the Apalachicola Bay System (ABS) Ecosystem-Based Adaptive Management and Restoration Plan (the Plan). Members of the CAB represent stakeholders whose lives are inextricably tied to the health of the Apalachicola Bay System, businesses that depend on the economic stability of the county, and the agencies responsible for the management and conservation of the region.
ABSI researchers are continuing to monitor and analyze the experimental restoration reef plots and cages for larval recruitment, oyster growth, and oyster survival. Preliminary results are still being analyzed, but will shared with the public once finalized. Read more...