State waives rules to help red tide cleanup

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FILE: Red tide. February,26, 2018. Credit: WINK News

Cleanup rules are being waived for the removal of dead fish from areas of red tide in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton on Tuesday announced the change to try to speed the removal of dead fish — regardless of bag, size, or possession limits or of season or area closures — from shoreline, inshore or nearshore areas.

“Having lived in South Florida for many years, I know how impactful these naturally occurring red tide events can be to local communities,” Sutton said in a prepared statement. “We are actively working with local authorities in the most impacted areas and stand ready to provide assistance to local communities.”

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday ordered the commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to take more action to address red tide in coastal communities.

Sutton said state research teams continue to assess the impacts of the fish killed.

Scott’s order also directed the commission to assist local efforts to save animals affected by red tide. Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson continue to exchange political barbs for water-quality problems across South Florida as they head into an expected November general election clash for Nelson’s seat.

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