Destin area restaurants not affected by Apalachicola Bay oyster ban

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Although local restaurants feel for the struggling oyster harvesters to the east, they'll not be changing up their menus any time soon.

"Historically, nearly 90% of Florida’s and 10% of the nation’s wild oysters came from Apalachicola Bay. But the Apalachicola Bay oyster population has been declining since 2013 after years of low water flow conditions," according to a news release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

In late July, the commission discussed suspending all harvest of wild oysters from Apalachicola Bay through Dec. 31, 2025. The decision is not final, however the commission directed staff to "proactively suspend all harvest of wild oysters through an Executive Order effective Aug. 1, 2020.

With oysters on the menu and even included on the marque of some of Destin's local restaurants they're still shucking and serving up the succulent oyster.

Tommy Lee shucks oysters at the Boathouse Oyster Bar on Destin harbor.

The Boathouse Oyster Bar, located on Destin harbor, uses a distributor out of Apalachicola for their oyster supply. However, he gets them from Texas and Louisiana, said Missy Schofield, owner of the Boathouse.

"We go through about 120 sacks per week on average," Schofield said, noting that's about 1,500 dozen.

Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House, located on U.S. 98 in the heart of Destin, of course has oysters on the menu.

"We hate that it's shut down, but  it doesn't really affect us," said Chef Andi Bell of Boshamps. "Ever so often, we have someone ask for Apalachicola oysters, but for the most part, our  guests just  want fresh, medium sized oysters.

"Ours are always 'selects' that are hand picked from the pile, so always consistent," he added.

Boshamps uses Webb's Seafood out of Eastpoint, near Apalachicola, with the oysters coming in from Louisiana and Texas.

Sous Chef Chris Davis at Boshams Seafood and Oyster House shucks out a few oysters.

Bell said they go through about a 100 cases, with 100 oysters each, on average per week.

Oysters on ice at Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House.

AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar, also located on the harbor in Destin, continues to serve up oysters daily.

"We source oysters from other areas along the Gulf Coast," said Rachael Green of AJ's. "While we love to have Apalachicola oysters, right now we are using oysters from Louisiana."

And between all their restaurants from Fort Walton Beach to Grayton Beach, AJ's averages about 250 dozen a day.

Shuckers hard at work at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin.

The FWC will continue to monitor the recovery of oysters in Apalachicola Bay and re-evaluate whether limited harvest opportunities may be available earlier than anticipated.