Expert speaks red tide mitigation before Collier County commissioners

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A dead fish from red tide. Photo via WINK News.
A dead fish from red tide. Photo via WINK News.

It is hard to forget the images showing the effect of red tide on our waters not so long ago. On Tuesday, an expert offered direction to Collier County commissioners to prevent the environmental disaster from happening again.

If a person comes to the beach on Tuesday and goes into the water, everything is fine. But there is still a fear of what might occur. Not that long ago, red tide polluted Southwest Florida waters. Today, Collier County leaders hope they can lessen the chance of that happening this year.

Fishers on the Naples pier; a dolphin swimming in the water; both man and marine life enjoying nature’s offerings. Vernon Lovett has lived in Collier County year-round for the last 14 years. She has seen changes during his daily fishing routine.

“It’s better right now than it has been the last 30 months,” Lovett said. “We’ve caught more fish in the last five weeks then I’ve caught in the last 30 months, so it’s getting better.”

That is because there is no red tide. It may be gone, but not forgotten. Erasing the memory of dead fish is hard. Even dolphins were washing ashore. The red tide also hurt wildlife and marine businesses.

Dr. Lisa Krimsky of the University of Florida spoke before the Collier County commissioners Tuesday morning. She said getting rid of red tide entirely is not possible. She challenged the commissioners to make sure to educate the public on what they can do.

“By reducing our human land-based sources nutrients,” Dr. Krimsky said, “we’re going to be able to hopefully have a positive impact on the duration or intensity of the blooms.”

Dr. Krimsky said monitoring poor sewage, fertilizer use and runoff are a few ways to reduce the number of nutrients that make their way into waters.

Lovett said he is already doing his part.

“I’ve noticed the fishing has gone downhill every year,” Lovett said. “I started thinking it had to be something man was doing, so I’ve stopped fertilizing my lawn.”

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