In 2012, the federal government declared a fishery disaster in Apalachicola. In 2015, FWRI received permanent funding from state revenue for an oyster monitoring program as well as supplemental funding related to the disaster declaration. These funds allowed for additional staff and start-up funds for equipment and outfitting a laboratory in Eastpoint. Researchers began monitoring the oyster populations in Apalachicola Bay by conducting pre- and post-season assessments of oyster density, monthly spat settlement rates, and monthly health and reproductive status. Additional funds became available from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement.
A project funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) sought to identify the most optimal and cost-effective shell cultching strategies for future restoration efforts by planting fossilized oyster shell in different densities (0, 100, 200, 300, and 400 yds3/ac) at three 10-acre sites in Apalachicola Bay.
Additional oil spill funds continue to be distributed through the Trustee Implementation Group (TIG), the state of Florida committee that helps to distribute Deepwater Horizon settlement funds. The goal of the additional funds will be to fill in data gaps to improve future restoration decisions. This project targets six estuaries: Pensacola, St. Andrew Bay, Suwanee Sound, Withlacoochee/Crystal River, Tampa Bay, and Charlotte Harbor. The FL-TIG project will develop Habitat Suitability Indices for oysters, conduct benthic mapping in regions where the resources are poorly known, study larval seasonality, sedimentation, wave energy, water quality, oyster density and size distribution.