News Releases

FWC proposes change to oyster rules

News Release

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Media contact: Lee Schlesinger, 850-487-0554

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

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is developing a 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 is permitted only between sunrise and sunset in Florida. Under the pending new rule, oyster harvesters would be limited to working only in the morning hours from May to October.

To maximize the time oyster harvesters would be allowed to be on the water under the pending new time restraints, the FWC is proposing to change an oyster rule provision that now requires harvesters to stow their oyster tongs on their moored vessels during nighttime hours. Under the new proposal, they would be able to stow tongs on their vessels while they are in transit to oyster bars from sunset to sunrise. This would give fishermen time to leave their vessel-mooring site before dawn so they can begin harvesting oysters at sunrise.

A final public hearing on the FWC's proposed oyster rule amendment will take place during its April meeting in the Tallahassee area.

FWC Facts:
Vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to stay at least 300 feet from divers-down flags on open waters.

Learn More at AskFWC