Pathway to
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative
Newsletter - December 2020
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
It has been a busy couple of months for the ABSI! The ABSI Community Advisory Board met in October and November and received briefings from Jim Estes (FWC) on the Apalachicola Bay Closure, as well as the shared ABSI-NFWF Components and Restoration Schedule; Dr. Bill Pine (University of Florida) on how river discharge creates opportunities for learning; Dr. Steve Leitman, who provided an update on the Freshwater Inflow Model, and Dr. Sandra Brooke (FSU) who gave an ABSI research update. Details of these briefings and copies of the presentations can be found here on the website.

The Strategies Worksheet reviewed by the CAB, a primary focus for each meeting, is in its final stages. This worksheet 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 that will be incorporated where appropriate before the CAB finalizes its recommendations.

During the past two meetings, the CAB members spent time discussing key ecosystem services, sustainable harvest and aquaculture goals that could be established to provide a healthy and productive Apalachicola Bay System.  Topics of discussions included 1) monitoring oyster and reef productivity, 2) future river flow and impacts on oysters, and 3) the impact of the USACE authorized water control plan. Additional matters discussed included funding for cultch planting, metrics for opening and closing the Bay, and limited entry oyster fishery.

Finally, on December 2nd, the ABSI held an Oystermen’s Workshop at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Adhering to COVID-19 safety measures and social distancing guidelines, nine local oystermen met with Dr. Sandra Brooke and Jeff Blair in-person to discuss restoration ideas and techniques. The meeting was recorded and is available to watch* on our website, and a summary report of the objectives discussed will be available on the website soon.

If you are a member of the oyster industry and would like to take part in future Oystermen's Workshops, please fill out your contact information here.

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

*We apologize for the poor audio quality of this recording. We are working to improve our microphone system and aim to record a clearer, cleaner video for the next workshop. 

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.

Next meeting of the ABSI CAB: January 13, 2020 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

ABSI Science Update
The ABSI research team has completed their intertidal oyster density sampling for the year, and will begin looking through the data to find trends. Additionally, six YSI data loggers have been deployed in locations throughout the ABS. These instruments will collect water quality samples every hour as part of ABSI's long term water quality monitoring. Data collected will include temperature, pH, salinity, conductivity, dissolved oxygen content, and turbidity. For more information on the science of ABSI, visit here.
No Shell Left Behind - Bringing Shell Recycling Back
While the overarching goal of the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative is to develop an Ecosystem-Based Adaptive Management and Restoration Plan for the Apalachicola Bay System, it also has a goal of evaluating relevant economic development opportunities for Franklin County. One such opportunity that presents itself is an oyster shell recycling business to support restoration of the Bay.

Check out our interactive StoryMap on the history of Franklin County and the process of shell recycling!
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