Pathway to
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative
Newsletter - September 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
The Community Advisory Board since its inception has focused on developing a list of strategies for achieving the goals of the ABSI Project, one of which is the development of restoration and management plans for the Apalachicola Bay System.

The document, called the Strategies Worksheet, is a living document, formed early in the CAB's deliberations and drawn from the views of over 65 local stakeholders interviewed by our facilitation team, Jeff Blair and Bob Jones; through a questionnaire given by the team to every member of the Community Advisory Board; and through reviews and revision at every CAB meeting since. These are not considered recommendations until the CAB decides that we have sufficient material to make them such.

At the September meeting, the CAB members agreed that the goals fell into two categories: one that falls within ABSI's purview:

  • Goal A: A Healthy and Productive Bay Ecosystem
  • Goal B: Sustainable Management of Oyster Resources
  • Goal C: Science-Informed Ecosystem-Based Management & Restoration Plan Supported by Apalachicola Bay System Stakeholders

and those that do not: those that would be carried out after the management plan is in place and others after restoration of the Bay:

  • Goal D: A Thriving Economy Connected to a Restored ABS
  • Goal E: An Engaged Stakeholder Community and Informed Public

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.

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: October 15th, 2020 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Science Update - Restoration Experiments
The ABSI team is getting ready to conduct its first oyster spawn. If all goes well, the  larvae reared in our hatchery will be set on different materials – natural shell and biodegradable ‘oyster catcher’ material (produced by the Sandbar Oyster Company, Morehead City, NC) -- for very small-scale field experiments near the marine lab in which we assess spat survival and growth over time to determine which material performs better.
We will begin larger-scale experiments next summer using larvae produced in the spring spawn and a greater variety of materials. Half of each type of material will be exposed to the larvae to produce spat on cultch and the rest will remain bare so that when deployed in the field, we can evaluate how seeded material performs relative to wild recruitment on bare substrate.  (Read about "Rearing Oysters" here.)

Another set of experiments will be deployed using the fall spawn set on the best materials found in the spring experiments. These experiments will occur on subtidal reefs in Apalachicola Bay and will be monitored for growth and survival of spat. The results from these experiments will be used to inform our models and larger scale restoration efforts by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, an effort due to start in summer 2022.  
Historical Timeline of the Apalachicola Bay System
From 2000 BCE to 2012 AD, this interactive history of the Apalachicola Bay System spans over 4000 years, including the Civil War, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and the decline of the oyster population in the Bay. Click here to view.
News from FWC: Final Ruling on Oyster Fishery Closure in Apalachicoal Bay October 7
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet virtually Oct. 7 and 8 beginning at 9 a.m. ET each day. There are a number of important issues on the agenda, one of which is the final ruling on the Oyster Fishery Closure for Apalachicola Bay. That will occur in the afternoon of October 7th. Public comment is welcome. Click here for more details.
Next time in the ABSI newsletter: overview of the October 7th FWC Commission Meeting on the final rule for closure of the Apalachicola Bay to oyster fishing, the development of a management plan, and a look at oyster shell recycling.
We are always interested in hearing from you so if you have questions or comments, please send them to our email address,