Red tide hurting local fishing industry

[USA] Red tide continues to linger in Suncoast waters and it’s doing more than ruining a day at the beach. Local fishermen, both commercial and recreational, say the algae is hurting profits and creating an image problem for fresh-caught seafood.

For many commercial fishermen, they can go far off the coast to avoid the red tide algal bloom. But for charter captains like Roy String, it can mean money out of his pocket.

“It’s been 10 or 12 years ago we had a really bad one in the summertime and it effected the entire bay,” said String. “And at that point there’s no where for me to go to fish.”

Captain String has been guiding tours around the Suncoast for 25 years.

He said usually when there is a red tide outbreak, he can just change where he’s taking clients on a particular day.

“If there’s a patch on the west side of the bay, we can just go to the east side. We just work around the little patches that are in the bay right now.”

So what is red tide? We know the result: coughing, respiratory issues and dead fish. But what exactly is it? Mote Marine scientist Vince Lovko explained.

“It’s a harmful algae bloom,” said Lovko. “Caused my karenia brevis.

Mote Marine tracks the red tide through a variety of methods–from high up in the air with satellite tracking, to under the water, and the old fashioned way.

“Sarasota County collects samples at 16 stations weekly, and those are extremely helpful and that gives us a week by week idea of what the bloom is doing, at least right along the coast.”

Another fishing captain, Jim Klopfer, said sometimes the red tide isn’t that bad, but a few dead fish on the shore will chase away customers.

“It’s more about the perception–it’s a little bit like the oil spill,” said Klopfer. “That effected us not at all, but they hear it and they see it. And we got a lot of questions about it.”

Klopfer said the fish is still safe to eat.

“Unless it’s really bad it doesn’t really effect the fishing that much. It effects where you fish, it moves you around. There’s still something to be caught somewhere.”


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