Nonprofit’s test kits allow SWFL fishermen to measure water quality

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Fishermen are directly focused on fighting the water crisis in Southwest Florida. They are looking for solutions to prevent blue-green algae and red tide from plaguing our shores. A local nonprofit will teach local fishermen ways to monitor water quality and combat negative changes.

Local fishermen are being trained to test the waters they fish in Southwest Florida, and nearly $50,000 of new equipment will let them test water further and more frequently than ever before.

“It’s to put information to scientists, so they can better understand these things,” said Casey Streeter, founder of Florida Commercial Watermen’s Conservation. “It’s something you can actually do to see a difference with.”

The organization celebrated acquiring four special water test kits in Matlacha Saturday after eight months of fundraising.

“Fisherman will take them at the start of their trip, will test water locations, and will cover more area than scientists had to this point,” Streeter said.

When the test kits are used in water, a probe gathers data. They test water temperature, salinity and oxygen, which researches say are all important to know in order to restock fish populations after the loss of sea life in summer 2018.

“Once we get to land, it’s emailed to NOAA,” Streeter said. “And they graph it out, and that helps them track the water.”

This fills a critical need for scientists to save fish populations, said Many Karnauskas with NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

“What we’re trying to do a better job is accounting for all the other factors that are out there,” Karnauskas said. “That we know are affecting our fish stocks.”

Streeter said the most important time to start the nonprofit water testing program was when red tide was not present along our shores.

“These water quality issues are everyone’s problem,” Streeter said. “It’s not just our area. We were ground zero for over two and a half years with water quality issues.”

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