Fishing charter business sinking after massive sewage dump

Sewage dump sinks Charter fishing business

Fish were jumping, the water was smooth and the tide was high, but three charter captains weren't on their boats on Sunday afternoon...they were standing on the dock.

"Right now is some of the best fishing in the inshore area of the Tampa Bay area and our phones aren't ringing like they used to," said Robert Hansen of Storymaker Fishing Charters.

The fishermen cast the blame for the slow Sunday on the City of St. Petersburg and the millions of gallons of sewage spilled and pumped into Tampa Bay after Hurricane Hermine.

"Right now I don't trust the mayor. If he would have listened to the report and come up with a plan, we probably wouldn't be in the position we are now," said Ronnie Hayes of Somewhere South Fishing Charters.

City officials ignored shut down Albert Whitted Sewage Plant in 2015, ignoring the risk of spills or sewage dumps according to a St. Pete sewer plant operator who is seeking whistleblower protection.

With the sewage dump, captains say now they are not keeping what they catch.

"Strictly a catch and release in fear of not knowing," Hansen said.

"I don't want to have that kind of liability if somebody gets a bad fish," said Anthony Corcella of Pocket Change Inshore Fishing Charters.

Environmental researchers say the effects could take months to determine. Likely algae blooms and sea grass die offs will occur because the grass isn't receiving enough sunlight.

"We're in three feet of water, you can't even see the grass -- I mean it's just so discolored," Hayes said.

With livelihoods on the hook, the captains are pushing for a massive dump of money into infrastructure.

"Tampa Bay is the backbone of our community and we're concerned," Hayes said.


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