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Streeter discusses water issues with GPICA

January 9, 2019
By ED FRANKS (efranks@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

The Greater Pine Island Civic Associa-tion held its monthly meeting last Thursday and the theme of the session was clean water.

Casey Streeter, co-owner of Island Sea-food Market in Matlacha and founder of the Florida Com-mercial Watermen's Conservation, spoke about the severe water issues Southwest Florida is facing.

"This summer we had a front row seat to the destruction of our ecosystem, fisheries, local economy and it was all red tide related," Streeter said. "I reached out to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and asked what their stance is on red tide. Their reply was to explain they don't have a stance."

Article Photos

Casey Streeter, founding member of FCWC, addressing the Greater Pine Island Civic Association.

ED FRANKS

According to FloridaHealth.gov, red tide is a harmful algae bloom that can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. It is possible that people in coastal areas may experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation and persistent symptoms require medical attention. People with respiratory problems (asthma or bronchitis) should avoid red tide areas.

Streeter then contacted marine biologist Dr. Mandy Karwoski from the Southeast Science Center explaining that Southwest Florida commercial fishermen have been facing red tide for 29 of the last 48 months.

Karwoski and Streeter organized a workshop where commercial fishermen and scientists discussed the issue, and Streeter participated in a study aboard the Marine and Atmospheric Science vessel Walton Smith.

"What they found in our water was severe stratification where the lower level has a high salinity and cold water and the two top levels are low salinity with warm water," Streeter said. "These conditions create a situation where the waters have an unlimited ability to create red tide and at the same time prevents surface mixing which creates a dead zone in our case, 250 square miles of dead zone with very low oxygen levels extending from Sarasota to Marco Island."

According to NOAA, "Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans and large lakes, caused by excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water."

Before starting FCWC, Streeter spoke with fishermen who have been fishing the waters of Southwest Florida for generations and, he said, "The story is always the same, this is not red tide. Red tide used to be 12 or 14 days, localized, and it would burn itself out and go away. We would have our red tide months, October, November and maybe December, and it would go away. We're in a pattern now that takes us into January, February and March.

"The goal of FCWC is to gain a better understanding of what's going on in off-shore waters and offer scientists the data they need to break that cycle," Streeter said. "Our commercial fishermen are on the water every day and we need funding to equip our in-shore and off-shore guys with water sampling kits."

Commercial fishermen would then take multiple water samples going out to and returning from their offshore fishing grounds and FCWC will make the data available to NOAA and other science organizations.

FCWC needs funding. Donations can be made by sending a check to Island Seafood Market, 4330 Pine Island Road, Matlacha, 33993. Make checks out to Florida Commercial Watermen's Conservation (FCWC).

Information is available at www.FloridaWatermen.org (under construction); email: casey@floridawatermen.org; or visit FCWC's Facebook page

In other GPICA business, a zoning change was discussed for 5.2 acres in Bokeelia. The proposed change was from Residential to Agricultural 2. AG-2 uses include dwelling units, accessory buildings, animals excluding exotic species and nature trails. The property is located on Kreamers Drive.

 
 

 

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