Florida State University is getting $8 million to study how to revive the Apalachicola Bay. The Board overseeing a settlement with BP from the 2010 oil spill approved the proposal Monday.
The FSU Coastal Marine Lab will examine the collapse of the Apalachicola Bay. Its oysters are internationally famous. But cycles of drought, reduced water flow from upstream and overharvesting have put the area’s seafood-based economy at risk. FSU’s plan has buy-in from the local seafood workers association, the National Wildlife Federation, the Apalachicola River Keeper and the Franklin County Commission.
“All the eight counties here all want oysters from Apalachicola Bay. They don’t want Louisiana oysters or Texas oysters. Right now we’re in a bad way because of the low river flows and creating the right salinity balance in the Apalachicola Bay to produce these oysters for the people," says Franklin County Commissioner Smokey Parrish.
The study is funded through Triumph Gulf Coast which administers money from the 2010 BP Oil Spill settlement. The univeristy plans to add a million of its own money to the project, which FSU President John Thrasher calls a big deal.
“This is a big project for a county that’s struggling economically and if it’s something we can pull off it will advantage folks in that area for a long time," he said.
In 2013 the federal government declared the Apalachicola a fishery disaster. A legal challenge between Florida and Georgia over water use from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system is ongoing.