A war over water among Georgia, Alabama, and Florida has put Florida -- and Apalachicola Bay's oyster industry -- into ecological crisis.
"APALACHICOLA, Fla. — If these were ordinary times, Leroy Shiver would be scissoring his heavy tongs along the shallows of Apalachicola Bay and hauling up bushels of oysters for hours on end.
Instead, in a task requiring equal doses of patience and hope, Mr. Shiver shoveled piles of dried oyster shells off his boat into the bay. A long line of oystermen and oysterwomen in boats alongside him also joined in the shell dump, a government-sanctioned, last-ditch attempt to revive the decimated oyster industry in Apalachicola. Under the right circumstances, baby oysters should attach to the shells and grow.
“This bay would be filled with boats,” said Mr. Shiver, 36, whose father and grandfather plunged nets, set traps and dipped tongs into the water along this stretch of the Florida Panhandle. “There used to be oysters everywhere in here, and now there is none.”
In a budding ecological crisis, the oyster population has drastically declined in Apalachicola Bay, one of the country’s major estuaries and the cradle of Florida’s prized oyster industry."