News Stories

SWFL Crustaceans and Fish Are Safe to Eat

Consumers are worried seafood they buy in the supermarkets and fish markets aren't safe to eat.
5:32 PM, Sep 06, 2018


Brittany Muller, Michael Adam Mora

When people learned Tropical Storm Gordon was projected to hit Southwest Florida, many residents wondered if its heavy winds would take the red tide with it.

Tropical Storm Gordon has came and went. Unfortunately, red tide still lingers on the coastline.

Now, seafood lovers continue to wonder if fish and crustaceans are safe to eat. It is a fair question to ask. Everyday more dead fish float lifelessly in canals nearby residential homes or are washed upon the shore killing the local appetite for seafood.

Owners of SWFL restaurants , seafood markets and boat charters have taken a hit since red tide washed up on shore. Consumers are worried the seafood they purchased in their local supermarkets and fish markets. They have bad vibes, believing the seafood is not safe to consume.

The truth is fishermen have charted a new course to catching seafood. They are sailing over 40 miles into the Gulf of Mexico to get their catch.

"Snapper and grouper are caught in Florida waters,” Neil Cook, co-owner of Captain Seafood, explained. “All of the other seafood comes from out of town.”

When it comes to crustaceans, several fishing companies that also catches crabs noticed there traps are coming up short.

"Whenever crabs sense a storm or toxicity in the water," Sean said, who works at the Island Crab Company, "they tend to bury themselves beneath the sand." 

If you’re still concerned about whether your seafood is safe to eat or not, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said store-bought and restaurant-served shellfish are safe to eat during a bloom. That's because the shellfish are monitored by the government for safety.

The FWC also stated if shellfish is harvested locally, it has been tested for red tide toxins before they are sold. Recreational and commercial harvest of shellfish has been postponed until Sept. 30 if it resides in the southern areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

If you prefer to cast your own line and fish in local waters, the FWC recommends that you fully gut and fillet your catch before cooking. But be aware the government agency said in relevant reports that the red tide bloom extends offshore for about 20 to 30 miles.

As reminder, FWC explains not to eat dead or distressed animals, especially in a red tide area.

And if you heard that freezing seafood will destroy red tide toxins in seafood, the FWC said that myth is not true.


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