Fishermen banding together with scientists to fight red tide

Published: December 13, 2018 6:23 PM EST
Updated: December 13, 2018 6:47 PM EST

The red tide that left hundreds of dead fish on our shore is clearing up once again but questions still remain as to why it keeps coming back.

Who better to help figure that out than the fishermen who are on the water day in and day out.

Red tide was so destructive this year, that former seafood market owner, Eddie Barnhill, had to change careers.

“The fish business won’t support me anymore,” he said. “There’s not enough fish coming in so I’m converting over to an ice business now just to survive.”

As the owner of Pine Island Seafood Market and a commercial fisherman, Casey Streeter also saw the devastation firsthand.

“I had a charter where my customer said well what can one man do? And that impacted me to think well what can one man do…one man can start a movement,” Streeter said.

Streeter is now behind the Florida Commercial Watermen’s Conservation, a new nonprofit organization where local fishermen are teaming up with scientists to further red tide research from the front lines.

“We traverse the inshores, the offshores the nearshores, we’ll be able to come and bridge these gaps, these funding gaps, these timing and scheduling gaps that our scientists have now to better understand these things that are happening,” Streeter said.

Their first project is teaching captains how to use advanced water monitoring kits provided by NOAA to collect data.

“Creates a water profile that shows salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chlorafyl A’s so we can see if we have red tide or algae blooms happening,” Streeter said.

The ultimate goal is to unite scientists and fishermen to steer toward red tide solutions.