Editorial: Disaster in the making — And it’s right next door
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Jun 04, 2013 | 3072 views |  0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Florida’s Apalachicola Bay is an environmental treasure. Described as a “perfectly calibrated mixing bowl of salt water and fresh water,” it is where so many of the Gulf of Mexico species — grouper, snapper, blue crab and shrimp, to name a few — start their lives. It is also the home of the famous Apalachicola Bay oyster, which accounts for 90 percent of Florida’s oyster harvest and 10 percent of the nation’s yield.

Or, at least, it did.

Today, Apalachicola sits at the center of what, Dan Tonsmeire, executive director of Apalachicola Riverkeeper,told The New York Times recently, is “not only an ecological disaster” but a crisis that “puts the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen at risk of being lost forever.” It is the type of disaster that should greatly concern Alabama’s lovers of the environment.

Quite simply, Florida has been warning about this for years. Thanks to a favorable court ruling, Georgia has decided it is better for the lawns of metro Atlanta to be lush and green, for the cars in metro Atlanta to be washed and clean, and for the swimming pools in metro Atlanta to be full to overflowing than for Apalachicola Bay to survive.

That might be overly harsh.

Although there has been a recent drought, the Apalachicola Bay usually bounces back from what nature throws it, but this is not nature’s work. The bay also has survived irrigation withdrawals by Georgia farmers.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who asks for federal help only in the case of natural disasters — hurricanes and the like — has written the U.S. Commerce Department and asked that oyster-harvesting areas be declared a “fishing disaster.”

Last year, a bipartisan effort in Congress to craft a legislative solution to control river flow — or to at least get Georgia to come to the bargaining table in good faith — was blocked by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. One senator.

But, as Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said, speaking of Georgia, “they want what they want.”

Apparently, what Georgia wants is not what Mother Nature intended.

If Georgia and Sen. Isakson continue on this path, one day there will be a sign tacked up on the deserted wharfs and empty oysters sheds along the bay: “This was done courtesy of one state and one senator.”
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Editorial: Disaster in the making — And it’s right next door by The Anniston Star Editorial Board

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