In July of 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to ban wild oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay until 2025. The decision, which came after years of drought and environmental pressures had severely depleted the Bay’s wild oyster beds, felt to many like the final nail in the coffin to a way of life that had been prevalent in the Panhandle for over a century. Since the mid-1800s, oystermen, fisherman, and seafood workers have built their lives on working in Apalachicola Bay’s oyster fishery–which at one point in history, produced roughly 90% of Florida’s oyster supply and about 15% of the entire country’s oyster supply. Now, in 2023, those who made their living off this industry are left in limbo, waiting for the oyster’s population to bounce back. “The FWC closing the Bay to wild harvest was what sparked our interest in making the documentary,” says Josh McLawhorn, the director and editor of Unfiltered: The Truth About Oysters. “It’s a film about the collapse of oyster reefs globally, but the ground zero of the story is here in Florida, primarily in Apalachicola Bay. It’s a story about a local problem that is happening all over the world–in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe–90% of the world’s ancient oyster reefs have collapsed in the last 30 years.” The global collapse, as McLawhorn puts it, is a result of humans putting too much pressure on natural ecosystems. “Whether it’s not allowing enough fresh water to come down the river into the estuary, or over-harvesting, or destroying habitats by developing every square inch of coastline,” says McLawhorn. “However, we didn’t want to make an environmental documentary that was all doom and gloom, you see that the summary is basically, “We’ve messed it up, there’s nothing we can do.” The experts that we interviewed for the film seem to really think that this can be turned around. We wanted to make it very clear in the film that if we do the right thing from a policy perspective and from the state, federal and  local levels and we do shell recycling efforts, and people are conscious of their impact, it’s possible to turn around this decline that we’ve seen.”