FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s no secret, Southwest Florida has a “fishy” problem.
We’re talking about invasive species. To help minimize the risk they have on our environment, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission held a special ‘weigh in’ this weekend.
“A lot of this is trying to inform people about the potential problems that these non-native species can create,” says Kelly Gestring, non-native fish and wildlife biologist with FWC.
It’s part of the annual Freshwater Invasive Roundup coordinated by the FWC and the Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (SWFL CISMA).
“It’s also just an opportunity for friends and families to go out and enjoy the outdoors and go fishing and benefit the environment at the same time," says Gestring. "So it’s really a win-win situation.”
People like Scott Shaffer from Naples.
"We got a three man team, fished all day Friday and Saturday and this is what we got,” said Shaffer.
A three man team that got three coolers full of fish!
"Two full days of fishing," he says. "Probably got 200 pounds or plus so we did pretty good.”
A local fisherman, Shaffer said he heard about this weekend’s invasive fish roundup on Facebook and wanted to help out.
"People eat them, so they’re not totally going to waste. But they kind of take over everything. All the regular species like the bass and stuff so they have to compete for them.”
But not all will be going to hungry bellies. Some of the fish are going to Naples Compost, helping bring new life to the environment.
"Being able to give them to a composting outfit is great," said Gestring. "At least the fish are being reused in a beneficial way.”
And so long as there are invasive species you can bet the fishing will only stay good.
"We hope that word gets out and next year we’ll be even more successful," Gestring said. "We’ll have more families and friends and more fish come in.”