BY MARCY SHORTUSE - There’s quite a stink at the north end of the island, and this time we’re not talking ditches. It’s fish, lots of dead fish, and they have been coagulating around the Boca Grande Causeway.
While many would speculate the fish could be from a red tide bloom, there’s also another possible cause of their death – commercial fishing.
This is the time of year when commercial anglers make their living harvesting mullet. The prize contained within the mullet is roe, red roe, specifically.
When the mullet are brought into the boat, the fishermen squeeze the fish to see what comes out. If it’s a white substance (sperm) that comes forth, the fish is normally rejected. If red roe comes out, that fish is kept. When the fish are sorted, the ones that are rejected are then thrown from the boat. They are usually dead when that happens.
Red roe, by the way, is going for $1.40 a pound. The sperm from the male roe is going for .15 a pound.
It is estimated that last week alone thousands of pounds of mullet were caught in local waters. One hot spot for netting them was Little Gasparilla Pass, and rejected fish from that area have washed into the old marina at the Boca Grande Causeway and County Road 771, and all the way up and down the Boca Grande Causeway.
It may not be just local fishermen who are throwing fish overboard. According to local fishermen, more out-of-town netters have been showing up in our waters as well.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “During the 2011–2012 mullet run the FWC received numerous complaints regarding large amounts of roe mullet being discarded into the water dead, and violations involving the improper storage, cooling and transportation of fish by harvesters.”
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