WINK News file photo of red tide

Fort Myers, Sanibel work to clean up dead fish from beaches

Fort Myers and Sanibel’s Tourist Development Council brainstormed some solutions and are spending tens of thousands of dollars to clean dead fish off Southwest Florida beaches.

They’re bringing in new machines to get red of the dead fish without removing all the sand. The money will come from tourism tax dollars.

“This is an issue for the whole state of Florida,” said Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.

Officials say more than 1,200 tons of dead fish and marine life have been picked up along Sanibel beaches, costing thousands of dollars to clean up.

“I look at a hurricane we have a beginning, we have a during, we have a pre, we have an after, right now we don’t know,” said Sanibel City Council member Holly Smith.

During the meeting, tourism officials voted in favor of buying two $60,000 heavy duty machines that clean up dead fish, but leave the sand where it needs to stay.

“At the end of the day the waste gets deposited in Lee County solid waste facility and if we can minimize the impacts to these facilities it can benefit us all,” said Jesse Lavander, director of Lee County Parks and Recreation.

Tourism officials also decided to set aside $1 million in marketing and advertising to help draw visitors back to the beaches.

“The hotels, the business community, they are our ambassadors to get the good message out that we have a great area and we’re going to recover from this,” Pendergrass said. “We are going to get this cleaned up and we will recover from this.”

Now Lee County chambers are tracking weekly reports of hotel cancellations, and they’re hoping to use those numbers to urge lawmakers to give more help to Southwest Florida.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson