Safe seafood harder to find due to Florida’s algae crisis

Credit: Richard Graulich at The Palm Beach Post

CAPE CORAL, FL (WBBH) — With concerns of bacteria and algae in Florida waters, many people are wondering if the local seafood is safe to eat.

Local fishermen say they are taking a hit after blue-green algae started invading Cape Coral waters.

“There’s a lot more dirty water,” said Andy Fischer, Island Seafood Market Manager. “I’ve never seen a beach shut down for algae before.”

Shorelines are now off-limits until the bright green toxins are gone, forcing fishermen to head deep into the Gulf or further down south for clear water.

MORE: ‘Guacamole-thick’ algae causes crisis on Florida coastline

“It’s tough on us, the shorter distance we have to run, the less fuel we’d use, the better off we’d be,” said Denis Henderson, co-owner of Trico Shrimp Company.

And higher priced fish is bad news for buyers, yet at the same time, keeping consumers safe from eating something that could make them sick.

MORE: 8 manatee deaths reported in Florida lagoon plagued by algae

The Department of Health says anytime blue-green algae grows in the water, consumers shouldn’t be eating the fish. But fishermen say their traps are turning up empty anyways.

“They just can’t go right out here and catch them because I think most of them are dead,” said Henderson.

MORE: Curing Florida’s algae crisis will take time, money, science

Some fishermen directly impacted by the blue-green algae are hoping a solution is in sight before the problem grows. Otherwise, fishing business owners say catching fish along the shoreline will take some time.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, you may not be able to physically see if a fish is affected by an algal bloom, but the toxins can cause “fish kills” which happens when algae consumes too much oxygen out of the water.

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