Way Down South: Our Fishery's Health Tampa, FL

With the increase of fishing technology and the amount of people in the Tampa fishing community how are our fisheries responding? I come from 4 generations of professional fishermen. As far as I can determine, my family started fishing the Tampa Bay area in the 1920s. Through many conversations with the old timers in my family, I have been able to grasp a picture of our ecosystem that is unique to most other fisherman. The Tampa Bay fishery took a gradual turn for the worst in the 1970s and has been in a downward spiral ever since. As I commonly explain on Tampa Fishing Charters , three things have adversely affected our fishery;

1.The Army Corps of Engineers Effects on Tampa Fishing Charters

Some where along the way politicians and engineers thought it would be a great idea to cut a bunch of straight lines through winding rivers, creeks and lakes of Florida. The largest example of this is Lake Okeechobee. The largest lake in Florida’s waters were created to naturally overflow its southern banks and drain through the Everglades into Florida Bay creating an amazing River of Grass. However, to give sugarcane farmers land to harvest , the southern end of the lake was dammed to prevent this overflow. Then sugarcane farmers were permitted to farm the newly dried lands and pump their fertilized overflow back into Lake Okeechobee. In fact a dam was built around the entire lake and a straight lined waterway from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean was built: on the west side of the lake it was the Caloosahatchee River and on the east side was the St. Luice Waterway. The lake would no longer flow south to nourish the Everglades and Florida Bay. Instead, highly fertilized freshwater was redirected through the waterway towards Jupiter FL and towards Captiva Island, Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach. The result has been an ecological disaster.

Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor have similar problem. Captain Rick Reddick of Tampa Fishing Charters and Clearwater Fishing Charters has noticed a tremendous decline

Charleston is on it’s way there too- it needs to be stopped before it gets worse.

It is sad to see how the state of Florida has prostituted itself to development. I’m not against development, but I am against rampant, unchecked development.