FWC to suspend aquatic spraying

CLEWISTON — In response to public complaints and concerns about chemical spraying to control aquatic plants, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will temporarily suspend the aquatic herbicide spraying program.

On Jan. 23, Ramon Iglesias, who has been active in the movement to halt aquatic spraying, shared a letter online that he received from Kipp Frohlich, Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“I wanted to let you know that beginning next week, I have directed staff to take a temporary pause in our aquatic herbicide treatment program throughout the state. During this pause staff will work to set up meetings where we can collect public comment regarding aquatic plant management. Once we have meetings set up I will be sure you are notified and hope that you will be able to attend. I hope I can also schedule a time when I can meet with you and Ms. Martin while I am in South Florida,” Mr. Frohlich wrote.

Mr. Iglesias and Mary Ann Martin were among the anglers who appeared at the December FWC meeting in St. Augustine to protest the spraying.

Comments may also be sent to invasiveplants@myfwc.com.

“There has been a catastrophe in Florida, and I’m not talking about Hurricane Michael,” said Mr. Iglesias, general manager of Roland Martin Marina and chief of the Martin Marine Center Series fishing tournaments at the December meeting. “I’m talking about the spraying of herbicides at a tune of $23.5 million. That number is $23.5 million worth of poison being poured into the lakes all over the State of Florida.”

He said on Lake Okeechobee alone, $2.5 million is spent each year on herbicide spraying.

The “Stop the State-Sanctioned Poisoning of Our Lakes and Rivers” petition on change.org, authored by Jim Abernethy, has collected more than 172,000 signatures.

The petition states: “Our recent investigation has uncovered a shocking correlation and overlooked contributor to Florida’s devastating Red Tide epidemic.

“The FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), a government-run agency, is spraying poison into all of our rivers, canals, and lakes, including Lake Okeechobee to kill an invasive aquatic plant called hydrilla. Hundreds of permitted contractors all over the state are still to this day spraying poison into our aquifer, Monday thru Friday, 40 hours a week for the last 40 years.

“The active ingredient of the poison being sprayed is called Glyphosate!

“Glyphosate is an herbicide that kills plants; the dead plant matter provides nutrients to blue-green algae, which in turn feeds the red algae blooms. The targeted plant hydrilla is an invasive species, but there are mechanical means to remove this aquatic plant that do not harm the environment in any way.

“Monsanto, a company that uses glyphosate as an active ingredient in their products recently lost a court case that resulted in a settlement reaching nearly 300 million dollars. Monsanto lost because glyphosate is a known carcinogen. This carcinogen is polluting our waters and decimating our ocean life.

“It is time to hold our government accountable for spraying poison into our waters that has resulted in an abundance of nutrients in our water that in turn fuels the growth of algae.

“Help protect the water, wildlife, and people of Florida!”

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

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