Scientists weigh in on Piney Point’s impact on fishing

Updated: Apr. 9, 2021 at 9:32 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Cars continue to pack the south side of the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier and fishermen are still casting their lines in light of the Piney Point spill. These fishermen are not only hoping they snag a good catch but also they are hoping that the Piney Point spill isn’t impacting what’s on their lines.

With the South Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier being roughly six miles away from the Piney Point spill in Port Manatee, scientists at The University of South Florida are concerned.

When asked if he was concerned about fishermen on the pier, Dr. Jim Ivey, a professor at the university, stated, “Yes definitely, that and all the other fisheries we have around here.”

Although marine scientists at the University of South Florida have now collected data samples to investigate, it could take weeks to month to know how the spill impacts marine life.

Dr. Ivey discussed how the research team is not using the dye tracing technique to track the water flow, rather they are using an instrument that “uses sound waves in the water. It is able to tell the direction and magnitude of currents. Doing this there are able to predict where it is going to,” Ivey explained.

For fishermen like Michiel Oliviero, this spill is concerning and he worries about the consumption of any fish. Oliviero said he will only catch and release as he does not want to eat any fish from Tampa Bay at this point. “I don’t know what that will do to you, I haven’t researched it to the point of consuming what’s coming out here because they are obviously living in it, the fish are,” stated Oliviero.

However, fishermen like Tony Galfo had no problem with consuming the fish even while being concerned about the environmental impact. Dr. Ivey also claimed he would eat fish from Tampa Bay right now.

“This is not containing something that is going into the fish, that we know of. As far as what I am seeing, they are looking at metals and other things that may be associated with it. From what we know of, this is just basically causing algae to go into overdrive,” stated Ivey.

Though the fish may be safe now, this flow from Piney Point is very fluid and ever so changing.

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