TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With beautiful weather across Tampa Bay, it is tempting to get on a boat and catch some fish. Vacationers and locals alike may wonder if seafood caught during a red tide bloom is safe to eat.
“When we have an intense plume on the coast and all of a sudden, we’re experiencing less symptoms, it’s likely been pushed offshore due to offshore winds and currents, and patches of red tide off the shore where boaters and fisherman are like to come in contact,” said Dr. Tracy Fanara, an environmental engineer who’s been studying Florida red tide for years.
Fanara advises not to catch or eat a fish that appears disoriented, and to stay away from areas with a lot of dead fish floating. That could be an indication of red tide in the area.
If the fish appears to be healthy, it should be fine to eat the fish, even during a red tide bloom. The toxins stay mostly in the inner parts of the fish, so once the fish is filleted, it can be eaten.
“People have successfully eaten tons of fish that way during a Florida red tide bloom,” Fanara said.
Finally, Fanara recommends eating farm-raised shellfish during a bloom. In fact, recreational shellfish is banned during red tide, so things like clams, oysters and mussels should not be eaten if collected during the bloom.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says fish or seafood sold in restaurants and grocery stores should be fine due to the strict regulations.