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Resident dumps fish in roadway to protest red tide policy, politics

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Longboat Key resident Frank Pruet is angry and frustrated not only with the stench of red tide, but with both the Town of Longboat Key and Mote Marine Laboratory’s response to the menacing algae. Last week, Pruet’s outrage led him to take what he calls to an action of protest by dumping two wheelbarrows full of dead fish that he scooped from the dock area behind his condominium into the middle of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Pruet’s complaint against the town is that Longboat Key has a policy of removing accumulated dead fish from canals but not from boat basins, marinas, or other docking facilities. His issue with Mote is what he says is a complete failure by Mote President Dr. Michael Crosby to be clear with the public and press that global warming, climate change, and environmental pollution are fundamental factors in exacerbating the red tide bloom.

“For Crosby to not mention in his most recent talks and press releases that global warming and climate change are part of the puzzle is simply despicable,” said Pruet.

Pruet said that as a Longboat Key resident, he has not only donated to, but volunteers at Mote, but told Longboat Key News, “I’m appalled and I’m resigning.”

Pruet was also bothered that Crosby has gone to great lengths to applaud Gov. Rick Scott, but maintains that Scott has been completely unsupportive in funding red tide research and environmental policy until the issue became a political liability.

Pruet said he called the town of Longboat Key about his other issue, which is the accumulation of dead fish between the dock that emanates from the seawall behind his condominium, Beach Harbor Club, where he lives in the 3800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Longboat Key Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said it is a long established policy that the town does not clean up fish in private boat basins, marinas, nor along docks that emanate from the shore. Brownman said Longboat Key clears out fish accumulations only from canals adjacent to public roadways such as in Country Club Shores.

“We already provide a level of service exceeding the neighbors. We even clear the Gulf side beaches, but we have to draw a line and this has been an established policy for several years,” said Browman.

Brownman took issue when he heard of Pruet’s action and said it was not appropriate to make the 45 m.p.h. roadway less safe. He said that the town’s trash service provider, Waste Management, will pick up dead fish if residents place them in double or triple trash bags. Brownman said that many private boat basins have a maintenance staff member or hire someone to simply scoop the fish and place them for pickup.

The town waits for a significant accumulation of fish only after several tide cycles fail to remove the accumulation from the canals it does service. Brownman said the town monitors day by day, but that the last week has brought relief and respite from the thousands of pounds and accumulations the Public Works staff cleared from mid-August through mid-September. Brownman tracks the red tide bloom by using the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) website and the algae has been slowly drifting north of our area.

Mote received a $2.2 million investment grant to fund red tide mitigation technologies through a directive from Gov. Scott. That money will be used to initiate specialized clay field experiments, which have proven effective in killing red tide but with documented environmental consequences. Mote will also expand a mitigation technology it developed including a patented ozone system to remove red tide and its toxins. A pilot scale field test of the technology in a dead-end canal in Boca Grande.

Crosby told a room full of media representatives last Tuesday that the state is partnering with Mote on a major new initiative focused on applied science and the development of technologies to fight red tide.

“We are dealing with an environmental emergency and our scientists are working tirelessly,” said Crosby.

After mentioning to the audience the ozonation and clay testing, Crosby added that we must, “Be careful to do no harm.”

One attendee asked Crosby about the political motivation that may be behind the sudden use of public money by Gov. Scott.

“When it comes to science, I’m agnostic,” said Crosby.

When asked if Mote had established a causal relationship between human activity and the growth and exacerbation of red tide, Crosby said that all human activity comes into play and there needs to be increased storm water controls, sustainable farming as well as a reduction in nutrient outflow.

As for the fish in the road, Pruet said that he simply did it to express his frustration and as a platform and impetus to bring attention to the fact that the town in his view should remove fish from all of the shoreline on the bay side and that Mote and Crosby  should be clearer, more consistent, and more willing to underscore the numerous established relationships between human activity, climate change and the severity of the red tide.

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Longboat Key News

1 Response for “Resident dumps fish in roadway to protest red tide policy, politics”

  1. Stephen Crawford says:

    Protest or not.
    Isn’t this still vandalism???
    People still have to drive down the road…
    Get over it , live with it, or clean it up yourself…

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