Who can you call when you see dead fish floating in a canal? Marco Island may soon have an answer
Karen Leonard, a Marco Island resident, went to her backyard on a recent Monday morning to drink coffee like she does nearly every day, but this time it was different.
A foul smell permeated the air making it impossible for her to ignore that something fishy was going on in Landmark Bay.
Looking towards the canal, Leonard saw dead fish floating in the water. As she got closer, she realized there were hundreds of them around her dock.
Leonard took pictures of the dead fish and called a few government agencies, including the city, but everybody told her they do not pick up dead fish from the canals.
So, who can you call to pick up dead fish in Marco?
Mike McNees, Marco's city manager, said the city has never picked up dead fish from the canals.
"What we are trying to do is develop a system where we always have somebody on call to pick up the dead fish," McNees said. "I have staff getting quotes so we can be better prepared."
McNees said the city has to design a protocol to decide when will the city intervene and determine how much will it cost.
Councilor Sam Young wrote in an email to the Eagle that doing nothing is not an option.
"A city response team seems very appropriate to help citizens clean up fish kills and mats of benthic algae," Young wrote.
Further, he says the city should use the boats it owns to do the job.
McNees said the idea of the city picking up dead fish instead of paying a contractor is not off the table.
A Collier County media representative said the county does not remove dead fish from the canals or other inland water bodies.
"There was a State Emergency Grant last year through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that permitted the county to remove dead inland fish but no money is available from the state at this point," said Connie Dean, the county's community liaison.
"Staff will continue to monitor the situation and any money that becomes available."
On Nov. 4, hundreds of dead fish washed up in a Marco canal by Landmark St.
"It was like a massacre," Leonard said. "We have never seen anything like this."
Leonard said she agreed to talk because she felt other people should know how bad the fish kill was.
"When you have something like this in your backyard it really wakes you up," Leonard said. "I'm not concerned about the smell, I'm concerned about the ecosystem."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's (FWC) fish kill database shows dead fish sightings in Landmark Bay were reported eight times between Nov. 3 and Nov. 6.
On Nov. 7, the Fort Myers News-Press revealed fish kills were still being reported in Lee and Collier counties as a lingering red tide continued to fester along the coast.
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