Anglers to protest use of chemicals in lake

CLEWISTON — Lake Okeechobee area residents who oppose the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s use of chemical herbicides to control invasive aquatic vegetation on the big lake will host a protest on Feb. 22 on the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee at U.S. 27. The protest will start at 8 a.m.

“The FWC is poisoning our waterways throughout the State of Florida, and we are tired of the spraying,” stated protest organizer Jason Blair. “We had a very successful turnout at our first protest in Okeechobee, and I am planning another at the Hubert Hoover Dike in Clewiston on Saturday, Feb., 22 during the Major Fishing League tournament. I will be reaching out to the local VFW to have a chicken barbecue the day of the protest. I’m asking all birdwatchers, duck hunters, anglers and general public to attend. We had a ton of media coverage at the last protest and want to get national attention at this event. The people of Florida must fight back against the poisoning of our waters!”

The City of Clewiston has offered a stage and PA system for the protest.

The controversial Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) policy of using chemical herbicides to control invasive aquatic plants has drawn complaints from boaters and fishermen for years. In early 2019, after more than more than 176,000 people signed the “Stop the State-Sanctioned Poisoning of Our Lakes and Rivers” petition on change.org, FWC temporarily paused the spray program and conducted public meetings. Thousands of anglers turned out for the meetings, with the vast majority of participants calling for limits on use of chemical herbicides and more use of mechanical harvesting. The fishermen also called for more oversight of the contractors who do the spraying.

When the spraying resumed, some anglers took to social media, posting videos of the spray boats and photos of native plants, animals and fish they say were killed or injured by the chemicals.

FWC’s website, myfwc.com, includes the spraying plans in their “What’s happening on my lake?” page.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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