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Red tide is anything but natural

September 12, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

In my last letter I criticized Gov. Scott's declaration of emergency regarding red tide. In it he pointedly referred to red tide as a "Naturally occurring phenomenon," and in doing so failed to, or intentionally avoided, noting any relationship between red tide and the runoff from Lake Okeechobee.

Now comes the FWC commissioner and his executive order making it illegal to keep any redfish or snook. Well, that is a necessary and good thing, right? Maybe not.

In the order, the commish follows Gov. Scott and pointedly describes the current nightmare as a "prolonged natural red tide event." Why include the word "natural?" We know red tide is natural. We also know darn well that the current levels of red tide are anything but natural.

In my view, the wording of the FWC order is just more proof that our state officials are, just like Gov. Scott, determined to avoid any link between red tide and Okeechobee/Big Sugar. Moreover, they are determined to avoid doing anything truly meaningful to stop the problem at its source.

Just like Gov. Scott's hush money, the FWC's action (moratorium on reds and snook) is nothing more than a diversion and a way to pretend they are doing their job. Come on, FWC!! Tell it like it is!!

If you have meaningful studies under way, get them moving, and fast! What does the moratorium do and where will it lead us? Since its just ducks solving the problem, I imagine in the future our fishing guides will have to buy glass-bottom boats to take tourists out to see the last half-dozen remaining live fish in Matlacha Pass.

Like Gov. Scott's declaration, the FWC order serves to just delay action on the real problem, and, in doing so, is making it worse! What is really happening is that the FWC is now putting the responsibility for protecting our stocks of reds and snook on our guides and our recreational fishers and is actively avoiding putting the blame (and at least a big part of the solution!) where it belongs, namely, on Big Sugar and the Okeechobee outflow! Come on out to the Matlacha Bridge at 11 a.m. on the 15th and add your voice to those of folks who want meaningful action NOW!

Eric Bagranoff




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