Please forgive the rarity of my posts these days. I’m interviewing folks in Apalachicola, and there’s a lot of driving back-and-forth. So time has been tight.
I do want to state that there is NO oil here. There never has been, and folks are praying that the physical aspects of the coast and the currents as well as the mouth of the river will keep it that way. This is the bay where 90% of Florida’s oysters and 10% of America’s oysters come from. They’re here, and they’re clean and delicious. I’ve had a couple dozen myself.
But oyster production is down, specifically because all of the oystermen around here are now employed by BP to “look for oil.” The money is huge and difficult for most to turn down. But in exchange for that huge money, they are prohibited from fishing. So the oysters lie and wait.
On the other hand, it seems like shrimp production here is up. The waters are clean, and the demand along the coast is huge. One shrimper I talked to yesterday is up over last June. So there’s that.
People here feel badly to pray that the oil goes somewhere else. They say it’s like a hurricane: you don’t want it to hit here, but you also feel a little guilty wishing it on others. But if oil lands here, this area could easily become a ghost town. There’s no oil industry or ship building. There’s just fishing. And if that goes, there’s not a lot left to do.
Visit the SFA's Forgotten Coast oral history project, which documents the seafood industry in and around Apalachicola, here
.* * * Ashley Hall is an SFA member and contributer toGravy, the SFA's foodletter. She is traveling along the Gulf Coast to capture stories relating to the oil spill as a traveling Gravy correspondent. We'll be posting relevant entries here, but visit the blog she's set up for the project, Third Coast Byways, for more.