This July, FWRI oversaw the first large-scale cultch effort on Apalachicola Bay’s oyster bars since 2017, as 9,600 cubic yards of “cultch” material (discarded oyster shell, fossilized shell, or crushed rock) was placed in Apalachicola Bay, where in 2012 the oyster fishery was declared a Federal Fisheries Disaster. Populations continued to decline and in 2020 FWC closed the wild oyster fishery for five years. Loss of suitable habitat is a major factor in the decline. Oysters require hard substrate to attach and grow and if there aren’t enough older oysters to provide substrate, restoration managers must add cultch to provide habitat for young oysters. FWC has funding for a larger cultching effort to begin in 2022, with hopes that these restoration efforts will allow for the return of wild caught oysters in this historic bay. For more photos and video, visit our Flickr page.