Is this what the future holds for oysters in Cedar Key

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Workshop on intensive farming Friday at lab

State agencies and organizations are partnering to bring to the public an intensive oyster cultivation workshop in Cedar Key Friday.

The workshop, put on by the University of Florida’s IFAS program and the Division of Aquaculture with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is from 2 to 5 p.m. and will be held at the FWC Senator George Kirkpatrick Marine Lab.

Topics to be included in this workshop:

• Overview of East Coast intensive oyster culture operations and Florida’s experiences

• Rules of the Road: Conversion of shellfish aquaculture leases to water column usage, navigational marking requirements, other permits, BMPs pertaining to seed sources, and public health regulations for oyster harvesting and processing.

• Development of off-bottom oyster farming gear and methods for the northern Gulf of Mexico. 

The workshop is free. 

To ensure there are enough handouts available, please confirm your attendance with Portia Sapp, FDACS Division of Aquaculture, 850-488-5471, or Leslie Sturmer, UF IFAS Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Program, 352-543-5057.

The workshop comes on the heels of a poor oyster season when high temperatures and increased salinity made Cedar Key oysters vulnerable to a parasite. The mortality rate among the oysters spiked during what should have been a profitable time for those who harvest oysters in the Cedar Key area. 

But the situation on the island was mirrored around the Gulf of Mexico, with Apalachicola being hard hit. Earlier this year, the Florida Cabinet approved a new method of farming oysters and local farmers will have a chance to learn about it on Friday.