Local commercial fishermen demand action on Lake O releases

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Nearly a hundred local people packed the conference room of Bass Pro Shops Friday night to discuss how the Lake Okeechobee releases have negatively impacted them.

The crowed of mostly commercial fishermen and enthusiasts agreed the releases are not only killing Southwest Florida’s ecosystems but they’re also killing many local businesses.

Captains for Clean Water is a local group and soon to be nonprofit that organized the meeting.

Group member, Captain Daniel Andrews says his and everyone’s businesses are in pretty bad shape this season.

“We got every day booked in March and April and going to be fishing every single day in May, no more openings, we’re thinking this is all going to be great and then this happens,” said Capt. Andrews. “You know we got deposits, that’s the only money in my business account.”

Captain Chris Wittman, another member of the group, agrees that everyone in the industry is in the same boat.

“In most scenarios the people say, ‘hey, it’s expensive to go on vacation,’ they want to get the most out of it and we’re seeing a lot of people turn away and want to go elsewhere,” said Capt. Wittman.

The group is demanding action from local and state officials to buy land south of Lake O to divert the water to the Everglades. For them, that’s the only long-term solution they would be happy with.

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