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Red tide's effect on marine life

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 19:34:09-04

MATLACHA, Fla. -- As people see red tide kill marine life on Southwest Florida's beaches, fisheries want people to know most fish caught commercially is safe for consumption.

The Lee County Island of Matlacha is one of the most popular fishing destinations in Florida. Andy Fischer, manager of the popular Island Seafood Market on Pine Island Road tells 4 In Your Corner when it comes to commercially sold fish, people shouldn't worry. According to Fischer, commercial fishing happens far outside the realm of red tide, which mostly affects water close to the shore. "As far as our fishing, we're 70 to 100 miles offshore, so red tide isn't affecting our commercial business," he said.

However, he says during red tide, the Department of Agriculture closes certain shellfish harvest areas. So, some businesses may have to travel further to get a specific shellfish like clam.

Even though Island Seafood Market's fish are safe, Fischer says red tide has another affect on Matlacha in terms of recreational fishing. Those fish closer to the shore do die during red tide.

He believes fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River is worsening annual red tides, which causes a major blow to Matlacha's tourism. "This place is one of the epicenters of the sport fishing community in Florida," he said. "It's what people come to see and come to enjoy and it's being diminished by the day, so it's not good at all."