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Red tide limits fishing in Tampa Bay

Some fish are catch-and-release only.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay
Dead fish washed ashore after a red tide bloom in the Gulf of Mexico.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Many people in the Tampa Bay area like to fish for fun, and it's also a large part of our economy in Florida. It's considered the fishing capital of the world. 

Red tide is killing tons of fish in our waterways, and that's a problem.

The Florida Fish and Wlidlife Commission has extended a catch-and-release order for three iconic game fish — red fish, spotted seatrout and snook through Sept. 16.

This applies to the Tampa Bay area outlined in red on this map. FWC's executive director Eric Sutton says that order gives the fishery a chance to be resilient. 

“Red tide though naturally recurring, we have more fishing pressure so we thought it was a conservative way to keep our fisheries healthy and high quality,” Sutton said.

Over the last few years, groups like the Coastal Conservation Association and Mote have released juvenile fish into our waterways to give them a change to reproduce and bring back the balance to the ecosystem.

Since those fish previously released are now at risk with this red tide bloom, the Coastal Conservation Association is teaming up with Duke Energy to release 100,000 fish once the red tide clears out.

Half of those fish will be sea trout, which have never been released before in the Tampa Bay area.