Red tide: St. Pete mayor pleads for resources from Gov. Ron DeSantis

Red Tide

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Red tide issues have St. Petersburg on red alert, and Mayor Rick Kriseman said Wednesday crews are at their wits end with long days.

The smell is nauseating in Crisp Park, with dead fish in both the water and in the dumpsters where people can take dead fish. Kriseman said it’s time for the state to step in and offer emergency resources to help.

“We are asking the governor, please: Pinellas County, St. Pete – we need your help,” Mayor Kriseman said Wednesday. “These city employees are busting their humps to try to take care of this.”

A city spokesman said more than 200 city employees are working long days cleaning up red tide graveyards like the one at Crisp Park. A dead goliath grouper weighing more than 400 pounds washed up and there were dead stingrays and fish in the water. Dead fish were even left hanging on tree branches where the high tide came and went.

Mayor Kriseman said within the last month, 500 tons of dead fish have been collected in St. Pete alone.

“It’s pretty awful. The odor sticks to you. It stays in your nasal passages. And then there’s the emotional toll of dealing with the dead animals,” he said.

City workers are being poached from playground, sidewalk and gutter maintenance jobs that now aren’t getting done so this one can. Many city employees agree with the mayor that it’s time for the governor the help.

“Put politics to the side. It’s nothing to do with that. It’s about getting the bay cleaned and getting the quality of life. That’s what we’re all looking for,” Stormwater Operations Supervisor Charles Hargrove said.

“I’m trying to help,” said Rita Hagberg.

She agreed with Mayor Kriseman that Gov. DeSantis needs to send more resources, like shrimp boats with big nets. Until then, Hagberg said she’s willing to roll up her sleeves to help her hometown and hopes others are too.

“I just asked one of the city workers how many citizens are getting involved and he said not many and I said yeah, they’re all home on their computers complaining,” Hagberg said.

The city made it clear, they are not collecting dead fish on private property.

“You may bag your fish up. We suggest you double bag them and put them in your residential solid waste container…but we also have dumpsters,” Kriseman said.

Seven dumpsters around the city are designated “For Dead Fish Only”:

  • Crisp Park Flora Wylie Park
  • Lassing Park
  • Demen’s Landing Park
  • Grande View Park
  • Bay Vista Park
  • Maximo Park

A city spokesman said most of the dead fish go to a county incinerator and some to the landfill.

When asked when the red tide problem might go away, Mayor Kriseman said that’s between God and Mother Nature.

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