No Fish / No Florida! Let us do the Math...
This little title/tagline above stated by us on this article found by clicking Here and even on some radio coverage found here:
When you start to look at the economic value of Recreational Fishing in Florida (alone) is quite staggering! And should by our Elected Officials and Fisheries / Environmental Managers, receive the value and protection that they deserve?
Having stated the above, and as we are facing yet another round of the naturally occurring Red Tide outbreak (yes natural since evidence of it has been found even in the Calusa Shell Middens) many of us (suspect) are being fueled to an even greater extent, by water quality issues some as expected... Brought on by the destruction from Hurricane Ian to places like Ft Myers Beach, Sanibel, Pine Island and more seen below to places like Matlacha, Florida
Can you say gone?
This is what happens when winds (Gusts to 215 MPH) and waves hit places unprepared to be a Submarine, and have just fallen into what is (now) just water under them 😔
And many others (God Bless them all!) with their respective septic tank leaching fields now just holes in the water, is akin to trying to put a "Fire out with Gasoline" nutrient load wise 🤨
Which is the exception and not the rule weather wise of course!
But, combining that with what is flowing down into and from Lake Okeechobee from places further north such as Theme Parks, Golf courses, Citrus and Cattle Farms (some essential, some not) is all just adding fuel to this water quality fire we are now (again) facing up and down the West Coast of Florida... 🙄
Be that as it may, all of these factors are adding to the pain. This while it is trying and succeeding in many cases, in shutting down (much less killing) the Goose that is laying the Golden Egg here in Florida, "Recreational Fishing" Let us just see what these other lesser contributors to our economy are adding dollar-wise?
And after you see these hard numbers maybe ask yourself... "Maybe we should shut down some Golf Courses and other things?" All adds to this run-off condition that is trying to destroy our Coastal Environments for what many if not most, came to Visit and Live in our Great State for and that is, Recreational Fishing!
Florida's Golf Value Annually = $3.01 Billion (UFL.EDU)
Florida Citrus Value Annually = $6.935 Billion (UFL.EDU)
Many mostly upstream (though it all runs to Sea no matter where it is all getting applied) leaching Fertilizers and other Herbicides / Insecticides into Lake Okeechobee and other bodies of water while it is trying to shut fishing down from simple (which is what it is) water pollution… Now let us compare that with this number.
Florida's Recreational Fishing value Annually (alone) = 9.2 Billion (FWC)
From the math, I was taught back in the 1970's and last I looked even on a calculator 😉 Those two numbers combined just exceed what Recreational Fishing (alone) adds to Florida's economy...
Now, allow me to tip the scales back to the Fishing side of the scale and add back in Commercial Fishing with its additional 3.2 Billion (FWC) we see that the total value of Fishing alone in Florida is around 12.4 Billion Dollars makes it simple and you do the math with us and it clearly states our tag line of: "No Fish, No Florida!"
And is pretty obvious much less quite telling about Fishing's level of importance to Florida in hard dollars alone when you Contrast and Compare the numbers.
This could lead us to ask some follow-up simple questions that appear (some) have not asked that at least also seem logical to inquire about such as...
Why has the USCG not been brought into this fight since we are really for all practical purposes, dealing with Water Pollution? And don't think the USCG only deals with Oil Spills! Then again as I have stated for many years now IF an Oil Tanker had broken open and spilled oil all over SWFL everybody would be up in arms! But, for those that are not aware of the role that USCG has in such matters (which by the way they are the only Branch of the Military that has a Law Enforcement Authority) allow me to inject their Mission Statement on such matters and it states:
The USCG (Office of Marine Environmental Response Policy) Mission Statement: "Provide guidance, policy, and tools for Coast Guard Marine Environmental Response planning, preparedness, and operations to prevent, enforce, investigate, respond to, and mitigate the threat, frequency, and consequences of oil discharges and hazardous substance releases into the navigable waters of the United States.”
I think that we would all agree, that this huge amount of Nutrients kicking off Toxic Blue-Green Algae blooms (alone) would fit the definition of a "Hazardous Substance" into the navigable waters of the United States...
We have some great conservation groups (BTT, CCA, CFCW, FGA, etc.) all working hard to help address this matter and have done a fine job with very limited resources in most cases. Hard even with our Great Governor who has led this charge where others have (hate to say it) failed on an epic level! All have a hard time fighting with the Federal Government Agencies on a State level. About time to harness one of those Tax Payer agencies much less a Branch of the Military, to help Florida in this important battle I say 😊
Next thing which also seems quite logical and has already been built/used to a much larger scale under much worse environmental conditions by the way... While we are running around blowing things up, digging ditches, and big holes to hold water so we can scrub it in the same 90-plus degree heat which might take years to fully come online. Why can't we (also and suspect much quicker) build a simple pipeline to move this water along US 27 from Lake Okeechobee around South Bay, down into The Glades...
Then dump it there and allow that huge all-natural filtration system to take up and help scrub that nutrient-rich water while at the same time, also, as it slowly flows south then getting into Florida Bay has serious issues with not receiving near enough fresh water.
Some say- certain groups in Florida want to hold as much water in Lake Okeechobee so (they) can have it for crops no matter what environmental impacts it may present once finally released. This is as long as it suits their production goals. Oh, and by the way, our research finds this same crop had in 2020 so will give it a tad more a value now naturally of (just) 737 Million dollars which (again) is just a drop in the bucket as compared to 9.2 Billion that Recreational Fishing brings!
Be that as it may, and so we are all serviced and not fighting against the majority. Easy enough (this is not Rocket Science) install some valves along that very same pipeline so (they) can grab as much water as they need for those crops... Which can also help us in this same fight to also absorb that same nutrient-rich water! As bad as this water appears to be, and the disastrous effects it has by dumping it in places that never intended to have it. Might be possible for this same water could help them save on Fertilizer costs by it already having some? Sounds like a Win-Win for sure!
And before others say it cannot be constructed, I must disagree! Starting way back in 1975 we built a Pipeline in Alaska to move oil 800 miles in subzero temperatures! Moving simple freshwater downhill along a roadbed in Florida odd miles if even that far? In 80-plus degree heat seems (again) logical so that the same water is not dumped into the Caloosahatchee River and down St. Lucie waterway to then fuel massive blooms of toxic blue-green algae that just turns into a royal mess like this picture from the CFCW Site below shows as it then dies in the Saltwater that it can no longer survive in...
So, again we applaud all those efforts by the legions of supporters and groups all leading the charge to get this mess cleaned up! And some of these awesome groups we are working on having join Flats Nation on some Podcasts to cover this even more in-depth. 😎
The Math / Value though sure does seem simple indeed! "No Fish, No Florida!"
In the meantime,
We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you just cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:
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You can see and read more as well as order them by clicking Here.
Tight Lines and God Bless!