Pathway to Recovery
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative
Newsletter - July 2021
The ABSI mission: to gain insight into the root causes of decline of the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem with a focus on oyster reefs, and ultimately, with guidance from the Community Advisory Board and input from stakeholders and the public, to develop science-informed restoration and ecosystem-based management plans focused on the recovery of oyster reefs and the health of Apalachicola Bay.
News from the Community Advisory Board
The Community Advisory Board (CAB) met on June 16th and received briefings from Dr. Sandra Brooke (FSU) who gave an ABSI Research Update (see Science Update below) as well as an overview of ABSI's Pollution Study from Adebayo Solanke (FAMU).

The DRAFT PLAN FRAMEWORK WORKSHEET is in its final stages. It lays out strategy recommendations across a suite of goals and objectives, including ecological and socio-economic. The public will be asked for feedback on these strategies before the CAB finalizes its recommendations.

CAB members engaged in an open discussion on law enforcement strategies for various management recommendations with FWC Captain Charlie Wood. Recommendations discussed included:
  • Increasing FWC law enforcement presence on the water
  • Enforcing size limits
  • Working with oystermen to evaluate current rules and regulations to ensure they are enforced consistently, fairly, and practically with an understanding of on-the water harvesting practices and constraints.
Lt. Steven Cook will join the July 14th Oystermen's Workshop for further discussion.

To ensure complete transparency, the entire history of the deliberations following from each meeting, copies of all presentations, and a recording of each meeting since March 2020 are available on the ABSI Community Advisory Board website.

Note: Due to COVID-19, meetings of the CAB have taken place virtually using ZOOM since the May 2020 meeting and will continue to be virtual until further notice. Members of the public are welcome to call in during meetings. Directions for doing so are on the website.

ABSI Oystermen's Workshop: July 14, 2021 at 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
(Invitation only due to social distancing requirements, all others welcome to observe via Zoom)

CAB Meeting: August 18, 2021 at 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
(In-person at ANERR and via Zoom)

ABSI Restoration Experiments
In late May and early June, the ABSI team deployed substrate for oyster reef restoration experiments in Apalachicola Bay in two locations: Dry Bar in the western part of the Bay, and Peanut Ridge in the east. The objective of these experiments is to test the effectiveness and stability of three different materials; natural shell and two sizes of limestone rock. The ABSI team worked with local oystermen to deploy the restoration materials.

Currently, there are a total of 30 mini-reefs (15 at each location), each being 900 sq feet (~ 85 sq meters) and 1.5 ft (~ 0.5 m) high. This approach is different from previous restoration efforts that placed a thin layer of material over a large area. The team is hoping the elevation of these materials will increase survival by keeping the oysters up in the water column where they can access clean water and food. The reefs will be monitored for oyster recruitment (spat set), survival and growth, predator prevalence, disease and reproduction.

The team also recently planted spat in cages and biodegradable bags on the reefs that were spawned from Apalachicola Bay oysters and reared in ABSI's experimental hatchery. This approach of ‘seeding’ wild reefs has been used elsewhere but this will be the first use of hatchery spat-on-shell in Apalachicola Bay. If these spat survive and grow, they will help ‘kick-start’ oyster reef recovery. 

A huge thank you to all who came out to help deploy these materials – the ABSI team is so grateful for your tireless effort, speed, and dedication. Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing experiment.
Bamboo Site Markers in Bay
Each experimental reef site is marked with bamboo poles as seen in the picture here. The floats in the center of the poles mark the location of cages where the spat-on-shell are growing.  Please do not anchor in these areas or remove or tamper with the floats, cages and poles as it may impact the research and damage fragile young oysters.

For any questions or comments, please contact ABSI at (850) 645 – 3475 or email fsucml-absi@fsu.edu
We are always interested in hearing from you so if you have questions or comments, please send them to our email address, fsucml-absi@fsu.edu.