Residents along the Indian River Lagoon have been cleaning up after last month’s unprecedented fish kill. It may be one of the worst fish kills, but it’s not the first – five years ago, another brown algae bloom not only caused a massive fish kill, but it also destroyed more than half the lagoon’s vital sea grass beds.
As news broke of another fish kill in the Tampa area, 90.7’s Nicole Creston asked economic analyst Hank Fishkind to explain the economic implications of these events, and to talk about the lagoon itself…starting with what is making it so unhealthy.
The problem has been developing for years. Decades of pollution from septic tanks in particular are problematic – the five counties along the estuary have 600,000 septic-tank systems, many installed decades ago.
The economic impact depends in part on how fast the situation improves. The lagoon supports a huge tourism industry based on fishing and boating estimated to generate over $100 million per year, and there’s over $2 trillion in property value located along the lagoon.
Some improvement is expected from the natural forces as the sea grasses bloom in the spring, but this could be offset by the warmer weather. The Florida Legislature has allocated more than $72 million to Brevard County over the past three years to help clean up the lagoon.