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Editorial: Our Take: Oysters Rubio

Apr 8, 2015 | News

But this week, Rubio will show leadership on an issue every Floridian should rally behind: the future of our prized oyster industry.

Rubio, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has arranged a field hearing today in Apalachicola so that committee members can see first-hand the impact of the decreased river flows starving Apalachicola Bay. Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson also is on the committee.

Apalachicola Bay produces 90 percent of Florida’s oysters, and 10 percent of the nation’s supply. But because of drought, overharvesting after the BP oil spill, and an upstream-downstream fight over river water, the region is facing what The New York Times calls “a budding ecological crisis.”

A federal solution is needed to save the oyster industry because for 23 years, Florida and Alabama have been waging a court battle against Georgia — home to 80 percent of the rivers’ basins — and continue to lose.

Georgia maintains it needs the water to replenish Lake Lanier, a reservoir that nourishes the needs of metropolitan Atlanta. Farther south, the state’s farmers are diverting river water to irrigate their fields.

Florida, meanwhile, needs the river flow to nourish Apalachicola Bay and restore the region’s collapsing fishing industry.

Read the full article here.