Capt. Van:

I just read your column in WaterLine about water quality. I just wanted to tell you that it was very well done, very thoughtful, with facts. Thank you. Far too much of what I read about the red tide problem is based purely on emotion. I am a snowbird fisherman from Ohio, and we spend two months in Port Charlotte. I too am concerned about the water quality and its impact on quality of life in Southwest Florida. One of my concerns is that too many people are blaming the problem only on Big Sugar. If only “they” would change and solve the problem. But I too think the data points to septic tanks and farm and household fertilizer as major contributors. I keep asking myself: As a short-term renter, what can I do to help?

— Dan Beckman

DAN:

There are a few things that come to mind. A cynic might say you could stay in Ohio, but I’m not that cynical. You could rent a home that is on sewer rather than septic, or, if it must be on septic, at least one that’s inland and away from the canals. You could rent a home that is xeriscaped or has natural landscaping. You could avoid flushing pharmaceuticals. Maybe most effectively, you could write to state and local officials, and remind them that you choose to come here for the fishing and outdoors, which requires good water quality. Otherwise, you might opt for the Texas coast. Some folks only care about the money. Threats to that are the best way to keep them on the right path.

— Capt. Josh Olive, WaterLine Publisher

Capt. Josh:

I enjoy reading WaterLine. Re your commentary on the “FWC pauses aquatic herbicide program,” I definitely feel that you are on the right track in saying that maybe we should just accept non-native plant species as naturalized and let them take up nutrients in the water before they hit the coasts. It reminds me of a situation that we had over 20 years ago in the Great Lakes (Lake Erie in particular). Lake freighters were dumping their ballast water contaminated with zebra mussels, quagga mussels, spiny sand fleas, etc. into the lake rather than dumping it where it should have. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources basically stated that armageddon was coming and that the mussels, which are filter feeders (filtering about one liter of water per day each), would deplete the lake of zooplankton and phytoplankton which minnows eat. Once the minnows were gone, the sport fishing and commercial fishing would collapse. Well, the mussel population exploded with beaches covered in shells — but then in a few years they collapsed and the numbers dropped way down. The last few years, we have had excellent walleye and bass fishing in Lake Erie. So as much as we didn’t want the invasive species, it turned out that it didn’t destroy our lake after all. Go figure! Sometimes we just have to work with nature.

— Larry Cronkwright

LARRY:

I think the battle against invasive species is worth fighting in some cases (e.g, pythons and lionfish). What our regulators sometimes lose sight of is the bigger picture. Two things they really need to keep in mind: Is there a way to win, or are we throwing money at a guaranteed loss? What other damage is going to occur as a result of the chosen control methods? If you’re going to lose anyway, it’s probably better to lose cheap. And if the collateral damage from the “cure” is worse than the symptoms of the disease, we shouldn’t try fixing the problem. It’s a huge problem with many of our issues — immigration, the drug war, etc. — that these questions don’t get asked, or, if they do, they are answered by folks with an ax to grind or whose palms are greased. I have to stop now or this will turn into a five-page rant.

— Capt. Josh Olive, WaterLine Publisher

Letters are welcome on any outdoor-related subject, but we do have some rules. Please keep them to less than 250 words. Letters may be edited for length as well as grammar and spelling. We reserve the right to refuse any letter not signed with the writer’s full name. Slanderous or libelous material will not be published. The Letters to the Editor section is designed as a public forum for community discourse. The opinions and statements made in letters are solely those of the individual writers. WaterLine and Sun Coast Media Group take no responsibility for the content of these letters.

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