Apalachicola area is a delicate eco-system

APALACHICOLA, FL (WALB) - By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

Apalachicola, Florida (WALB) – Fishing and seafood restaurants are the biggest economic driving force in this part of the Sunshine State.

Restaurant owners, fishermen, and government leaders are working together to prepare for the possibility of oil reaching their shores.

Even if that doesn't happen, they will be affected. It's one of those things no one thinks about until it happens.

"I've been fishing 30 years and we've never seen any oil spill like this," said Fisherman Terry Hicks.

The Gulf oil spill crisis has Apalachicola on constant alert, wondering if their fishing community will be spared.

"Our whole industry is based on seafood," said  Troy Segree of Papa Joe's Seafood.

"If it comes this way, I'm worried cause it'll put us out of business," said Hicks.

Apalachicola farms its own oysters. Restaurants say they can't afford to import them if theirs are ruined by the oil.

"This is our livelihood, a lot of people come down here wanting Apalachicola oysters," said  Segree. "They're the best. My wife works for vacation properties and people are asking for refund because of the situation. We had two phone calls this morning asking if oysters are alright."

"It's just gonna mess up all the businesses here. And the tourists, no one wants to come see oil," said Hicks.

In addition to wondering if the fish they catch are even edible, fishermen are also concerned about their equipment, thousands of dollars worth of equipment, being ruined by oil.

"It just gets in your nets. won't be able to drag your nets and come up through all that oil. It'll just mess your seafood up," said Hicks.

The city of Apalachicola and Franklin county sent its leaders to nearby Gulf county today to discuss a plan of action, which may include a lawsuit. The people here say other states should be worried about the oil spill as well.

"They'll be a lot of states hurting. They want seafood and they take it back to Georgia, Alabama, where ever they're from," said Hicks.

But for now, they're worried about saving themselves, anxiously watching which way this spill will go.

Franklin County commissioners will meet tomorrow to discuss a plan of action regarding the oil spill more.

They say they'll keep their public informed and involved with that plan.

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