FWC waives rules in response to red tide cleanup

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) continues to monitor the red tide affecting southwest Florida. Red tides are common along Florida’s Gulf coast, and fish populations have been resilient to the impact even after severe and prolonged red tide events.

At Gov. Rick Scott’s direction, the FWC has mobilized all available resources to mitigate naturally occurring red tide, and executive director Eric Sutton has waived rules through an executive order to expedite the removal of dead fish – regardless of applicable bag, size, or possession limits or of season or area closures – from shoreline, inshore or nearshore areas in the following counties: Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas.

Please do not remove sawfish, marine turtles, manatees, dolphins or whales. Report sick, injured or dead sawfishes to 1-844-4SAWFISH (472-9347). Report sick, injured or dead marine turtles, manatees, dolphins and whales to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922. Currently, we have over 30 biologists on site responding to the event.

“Having lived in south Florida for many years, I know how impactful these naturally occurring red tide events can be to local communities,” said Eric Sutton, executive director of the FWC. “We are actively working with local authorities in the most impacted areas and stand ready to provide assistance to local communities.”

Our research teams are assessing the impacts of the fish killed as a result of this event to inform potential management actions.

The Florida Department of Health suggests using gloves and, if experiencing respiratory issues, a mask, when participating in removal efforts. To learn more about the health effects of red tide, visit FloridaHealth.gov/, scroll over “Environmental Health” in the top blue bar and select “Red Tide” under the subheading “Water.” All dead fish and marine life must be disposed in compliance with local safety, health and sanitation requirements.

For specific details about FWC Executive Order 18-33, visit MyFWC.com/About and click on “Executive Orders.”