Florida seeking federal aid due to oyster decline
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott is seeking federal disaster assistance due to the failure of Florida's oyster fishery.
Scott sent a letter Thursday to the U.S. Department of Commerce requesting the declaration of a fishery resource disaster for Gulf of Mexico harvesting areas.
Most of Florida's oysters are taken from Apalachicola Bay in the Panhandle. The fishery failure could affect 2,500 jobs in Franklin County.
Officials suspect drought is a contributing factor. It's reduced freshwater flowing into the bay from Georgia and Alabama through the Apalachicola River.
Another factor may be overfishing due to pressure from closures of oyster harvesting areas in nearby states.
A disaster declaration would make economic assistance available to businesses and individuals in the oyster industry. Funds also could be obtained to help restore oyster beds.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)