During the past year, Florida’s outdoor sportsmen have seen massive harmful algal blooms and fish die-offs across the Indian River Lagoon. Around the state Tampa Bay and Florida Bay have experienced very similar bouts with water quality. Beyond the immediate impact, these estuaries are breeding grounds for not only nearshore fish but also an array of marine species. Whether fishing for snook or tarpon off the beach or in the passes or providing forage for marine predators, healthy fisheries depend on local water quality.
Just like anglers, administrators understand the need for a comprehensive approach to solving water quality issues. Problems are widespread, complex and have evolved over decades. Solving them will take an extraordinary effort with participation on the local, state and in particular, the federal level.
On November 8 anglers will have the chance to choose who will represent them and take on the critical job of running this country. One candidate has top environmental credentials along with a documented history of working in the public interest. The other is a real estate developer who has failed to provide any documentation of his achievements. Solving Florida’s immense water quality challenges will require a vast effort whose success will turn on the level of federal involvement and support.
(Tom Raftican is mentor and a co-writer of this blog!)