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Kriseman To DeSantis: Help Us Fight Red Tide In Pinellas

Mayor Rick Kriseman speaks at a podium
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St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is surrounded by city staffers - and a worker scooping dead fish out of Crisp Park.

"My office has not heard from the governor. I'm not sure if the county has," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. "So far, it's been kind of silent. And we sure would like some help from the governor's office."

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman put out a plea Wednesday for the state to help clean up the waves of dead fish killed by red tide.

Kriseman said Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn't said if he will help pay crews to scoop up the more than 613 tons of fish already collected in Pinellas County.

As a worker with a fishing net behind him scooped dead fish out of the water, Kriseman said the city alone has removed around 500 tons of dead marine life.

"We are asking the governor — please! Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, we need your help," Kriseman said. "This isn't about politics, and I know the governor's had a lot to juggle lately. But we need his office to be paying attention to this. Send resources down here."

Kriseman wants help hiring shrimp boats that would net dead fish in the bay before they can float ashore, where they can become entangled in mangroves.

He said cleanup has cost the city of St. Petersburg "six figures" so far. Around 200 workers from every city department have been involved in the effort, and Kriseman lamented that other city services are being neglected.

Dead fish litter the downtown St. Petersburg marina
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
Dead fish and a horseshoe crab litter the downtown St. Petersburg marina

"My office has not heard from the governor. I'm not sure if the county has," he said. "So far, it's been kind of silent. And we sure would like some help from the governor's office. Rick Scott stepped up, declared a state of emergency, provided resources that help with cleanup. That's all we're asking for."

A statement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said interim Secretary Shawn Hamilton toured Tampa Bay on Tuesday along with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton.

They promised more help for the Center for Red Tide Research, run by the FWC in St. Petersburg. They said the governor signed a bill that provides $3 million a year to the initiative for six years, totaling $18 million.

Anyone who needs help in getting dead fish picked up can call 727-893-7111.

Pinellas County is reporting red tide in some parts of Tampa Bay in the past few days tested at 10 to 17 times the concentration considered “high,” which can cause significant respiratory issues in people and fish kills.

Pinellas beaches remain open and areas with lower levels of red tide are safe to visit. However, higher concentrations can cause health effects, especially for people with underlying respiratory issues.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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