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Agriculture Press Release

July 13, 1999

Oyster Restoration Program Begins in Big Bend Region

TALLAHASSEE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today announced that a program to restore and enhance oyster resources in seven North Florida counties will begin in July and August. The program is part of a statewide commitment to rehabilitate historically productive oyster resources.

The Departments Division of Aquaculture will begin the initial phase of the oyster development program in the Big Bend region, where more than 150,000 bushels of adult and juvenile oysters will be planted on public oyster beds off Levy, Dixie and Wakulla counties. Oyster reseeding began on July 8 near Cedar Key (Levy County), and is scheduled to start on July 14 at Horseshoe Beach (Dixie County), and on August 3 off Shell Point (Wakulla County). The program will continue later in Franklin, Bay, Walton and Santa Rosa counties.

"Restoring public oyster reefs with live oysters uses a resource that would otherwise be lost to oyster harvesters and the seafood industry," Crawford said. "This program also benefits local economies by employing oystermen during the summer, when the oyster harvesting season is closed."

Under the program, oysters are transplanted from waters where harvesting is not allowed into waters approved for shellfish harvesting. Oysters planted on public reefs during the summer will cleanse themselves and may be harvested during the following oyster season.

Oyster management programs have been successful in preventing critical losses of productive oyster reefs, and have contributed to the environmental quality in historically productive areas.

For information about the program call (850) 488-5471, or write:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Division of Aquaculture
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Mail Station 205
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000

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For more information:

Mark Berrigan
(850) 488-5471
David Heil
(850) 488-5471

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