Anglers will have to release snook, redfish and spotted seatrout they catch in Tampa Bay through Oct. 11, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced Tuesday. The order extends a Red Tide-related partial closure that had been in place through Sept. 16.
The snook fishery has been under a seasonal closure for much of the summer.
The three species are favorites for inshore anglers. The fisheries were previously limited after a bad Red Tide bloom in 2018. The closure is meant to protect populations after weeks of fish kills from the toxic algae this summer.
The catch-and-release order covers most waters of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and north of State Road 64 in Manatee County, according to the state.
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Red Tide coverage
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Red Tide resources
• The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a website that tracks where Red Tide is detected.
• Florida Poison Control Centers have a toll-free 24/7 hotline to report illnesses, including from exposure to Red Tide: 1-800-222-1222
• To report dead fish for clean-up in Tampa Bay, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-800-636-0511 or file a fish kill report online.
• In St. Petersburg, call the Mayor’s Action Center at 727-893-7111 or use St. Petersburg’s seeclickfix website.
• Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the county’s tourism wing, runs an online beach dashboard at www.beachesupdate.com.
How to stay safe near the water
• Do not swim around dead fish.
• Those with chronic respiratory problems should be careful and stay away from places with a Red Tide bloom. Leave if you think Red Tide is affecting you.
• Do not harvest or eat mollusks or distressed and dead fish from the area. Fillets of healthy fish should be rised with clean water, and the guts thrown out.
• Pet owners should keep their animals away from the water and from dead fish.
• Residents living near the beach should close their windows and run air conditioners with proper filters.
• Beachgoers can protect themselves by wearing masks.
Source: Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County