LEE COUNTY — Fox 4 cameras were rolling as a man dumped a cooler full of dead fish into the canal at the Davis boat ramp on Tuesday.
We talked with people living nearby who had to deal with the aftermath. Lee County Parks staff were out there early Wednesday morning cleaning up all of the fish floating in the water.
But after talking with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), we learned there’s no law preventing it from happening again.
Within a matter of minutes Tuesday, the Florida heat turned those fish into a smelly mess.
"It stunk awful, and then I saw the fish heads, or the remains, floating in the canal," said Bob Miller, who lives just upstream from the boat ramp.
He said he was taking his boat out himself when he saw the fish.
"As soon as it came off the trailer and I backed out into the canal I was amazed at the wonderful odor that was there," said Miller.
But despite the impact on neighbors like Miller, FWC said the guy wasn’t breaking any laws.
"We don’t necessarily have any rules specific to how to dispose of these fish," said Public Information Officer Amanda Nalley.
But Nalley said FWC does encourage people not to dump fish in canals, because they can hurt the environment.
"It can cause problems for fish that are in that area where the decomposing fish are," said Nalley.
Nalley also said it can endanger birds who might eat the rotting fish. One angler we spoke with said he hopes people learn a lesson from this.
"We have to dispose of it properly. It’s just imperative that each one of us take our responsibility and try to ensure that we keep up with the ecology," said fisherman Al Garcia.
Miller said he just hopes people use common sense in his neighborhood in the future.
"When you dump that much in all at once, it’s just not right," said Miller.
The County does have some boat ramps that are equipped with fish cleaning stations and a place to dispose of them, like at the Punta Rassa boat ramp.
FWC also said, if you see a fish dump like the one that happened at the Davis boat ramp, you should call their hotline at (888) 404-3922.