Rick Scott Promises Food, Aid for Families in Foundering Panhandle Oyster Industry
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott, meeting Wednesday with Franklin County residents, announced that a National Emergency Grant is headed to the Apalachicola Bay region -- a region suffering with the decline in water quality for oyster harvesting and other fishing.
Also, a resources fair is planned in Franklin County on Oct. 12 for the estimated 2,500 directly impacted.
“Florida is working with the Army Corps for a long-term plan to address the needs of Franklin County, while also helping to address short-term needs through worker training and food banks. When one community in our state hurts, we all come together to help,” Scott stated in a release.
“The Apalachicola Bay is critical to the state of Florida. It is home to the world’s best oysters and fisheries, and the hard-working residents here rely on the bay to provide for their families. State agencies and community organizations are coming together to ensure families in this area can get back on their feet quickly.”
Scott has asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare oyster harvesting areas in the Gulf of Mexico around Apalachicola Bay a fishery resource disaster, in part because of years of drought conditions and overharvesting.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putman has placed blame on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for restricting upstream water flow, which has reduced the amount of fresh water vital for the growth of oysters in the bay. The state has estimated that Apalachicola Bay has produced about 10 percent of the U.S. oyster supply, and accounted for 90 percent of Florida’s harvest.
According to the release from the governor’s office, Scott toured the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Mobile One-Stop Unit, which offers employment, re-employment and Re-employment Assistance Program services to local residents. DEO also is coordinating a food drive with state agencies. The first delivery to Franklin County was made Wednesday. A second delivery is scheduled for Friday.
“Under Governor Scott’s direction, DEO, the Department of Children and Families and other state partners in the Rural Economic Development Initiative are working collaboratively with local agencies to develop long-term strategies to assist in supporting the region,” DEO Executive Director Hunting F. Deutsch stated in a release.
“We want to ensure we access any and all available resources to assist the residents of Franklin County with providing for their families.”
The Department of Children and Families is training 15 volunteers to assist with the emergency needs of Franklin County residents, with a temporary employee hired to assist people at the Apalachicola location of Franklin’s Promise Coalition.
“Our agency will continue to partner with the Franklin County community to create innovative and effective ways to best serve everyone affected by the fishery resource crisis,” DCF Secretary David Wilkins stated in a release.
“We are committed to helping the people of the Apalachicola Bay area get the assistance they need.”
The governor’s office also added that “anyone interested in contributing canned or nonperishable foods for impacted residents in Franklin County can drop off their items at the DEO visitor entrance located at 107 East Madison St., Tallahassee. Please visit Franklin County’s Disaster Relief Fund at http://www.bayaidfranklin.com/.”
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.