FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Federal officials are trying to help preserve Frankin County’s rich history in the oyster industry.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced it would be giving $15,000 to the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast, to create the oyster aquaculture workforce training program.
It will be designed to give students first-hand experience and new opportunities to improve Apalachicola bay.
“For two things – for young people one, they learn the science of it so helps with their education requirements, the second piece is that it shows theirs economic opportunity for them as an oyster farmer that it is a potential way for them to earn a living and forward to kind of expanding to this opportunity to do an aquaculture project,” Executive Director of Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Joe Taylor said.
Taylor said oystermen have been struggling since 2012 to harvest oysters in Apalachicola Bay.
In fact, the state shut down the bay to oystering until 2025, hoping it will give the oyster a chance to rebound.
All of the students for the oyster aquaculture project will come from the Franklin’s Promise Coalition.
Student Jaden Golden is excited about the chance to have an immersive experience in a new industry.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity to do stuff with the oysters and help the bay and everything. It would be nice for future generations to have opportunities with the bay because fishing is a big part of our community here in Eastpoint,” Golden said.
Oyster Corps Crew Member Elijah Mathes believes the project will be a springboard to other opportunities.
“It can help anyone who is interested in doing conservation, going into the FWC or forestry, or anything with wildlife and help learn and help the bay out,” Mathes said.
Taylor also believes it will show young people economic opportunities in the oyster industry.
The program will start right away.
Taylor hopes to be sharing oysters with the public by this time next year.