Representative Steve Southerland, II authored a letter today to Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank requesting a federal fisheries disaster declaration for oyster harvesting operations in Apalachicola Bay and the surrounding region. North Florida's oyster population has been in a steep decline due to drought conditions and harvesting pressures resulting from the moratorium in the western Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
"I am hopeful that our urgent plea on behalf of Florida's oystermen will result in an immediate federal fishery disaster declaration for harvesting and processing in Apalachicola Bay and the surrounding region," Southerland said. "Without swift action, Franklin County alone could see 2,500 oyster-related jobs negatively impacted by this unprecedented decline in the fishery's population. I have heard the concerns of our oystermen loud and clear, and I'm committed to doing all I can to provide them with the resources they need to assess the root causes and secure a sustained economic recovery."
Southerland was joined by Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Florida Reps. Jeff Miller and Richard Nugent in sending today's letter to Secretary Blank.