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FWC approves rule to help oyster harvesters

News Release

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Media contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule amendment Thursday to help oyster harvesters adjust to pending new restrictions that will affect the time they are allowed to harvest and transport oysters on the water in Florida.

Florida's oyster fishery is jointly managed by the FWC and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS).  DACS is developing a new rule to require harvesters to deliver their oysters to a certified dealer by 11:30 a.m. during May, June and July, and by noon during August, September and October.  This action is being taken to meet new federal health safety requirements for the oyster industry by ensuring that harvested oysters are handled and processed during cooler morning hours in warm-weather months.

Oyster harvesting in Florida is allowed only during the daytime (between sunrise and sunset).  However; the pending DACS rule will limit oyster harvesters to working only in the morning for six months each year.

To help give oyster harvesters as much time as possible to fish during this shortened period, the FWC has modified its rule, which prohibits oyster tongs to be on vessels overnight (between sunset and sunrise), where oysters are harvested.  Under the amended rule, fishermen will now be able to stow tongs on their vessels before dawn, which means they can leave their vessel-mooring site sooner and begin harvesting oysters at sunrise.

This rule amendment takes effect in early June.

FWC Facts:
Adult bottlenose dolphins eat more than 20 lbs. of mullet, sheepshead, pinfish, flounder and marine invertebrates daily.

Learn More at AskFWC