Amid SWFL algae: Is seafood safe to eat?

The water concerns surrounding fish and larger wildlife is raising one big question: Is seafood safe to eat?

Fishermen are working to make sure the food on your plate isn’t affected by the algae.

Eric Prezzy and his crew at “Cowboy Crabs and Seafood” work long hours to put seafood on the table. They normally catch blue crabs right from the Caloosahatchee River, but the toxic algae is changing their course.

“(The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) lets you know route two and three is high algae,” Prezzy said. “Stay away from those areas but route one and four you know may be real good areas. but again to get from route one to four, it’ll take us another 35 minutes hoping another crabber hasn’t already got as much as he can from that route.”

It’s costing crabbers money and time.

“Thinking about the maintenance on my boat like that algae gets stuck in certain engine parts and it’s just like now that’s triple the maintenance,” Prezzy said.

However, Prezzy and others say it’s necessary to keep customers safe.

“Crabs eat oyster,s and crab(s) can eat other shellfish, and so there is a possibility that crabs could accumulate toxins that were in the oysters or the shellfish,” said Florida Gulf Coast University professor Mike Parsons.

With the releases from Lake Okeechobee, Parsons said crabs move down the river toward the salt water, and away from the algae.

“Most of that algae is up in the freshwater at the surface so there may not be a direct connection,” Parsons said.

While it’s unlikely you’d eat a baf crab, given the pattern and FWC regulations, Parsons warn people should “be cautious.”

“Don’t collect oysters or what not in an area where you know the bloom is or there was recently,” Parsons said.

It’s something Prezzy said they’re always watching.

“It’s a natural disaster, so as long as we do the best we can, everything will be fresh, and we don’t have to worry about it,” Prezzy said.

Reporter:Taylor Bisacky
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