Conservationists release thousands of redfish after population diminished by red tide

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Marine researchers are working to reverse the negative effects of red tide by replenishing the struggling redfish population. 

Duke Energy and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission partnered to complete several redfish releases in counties along Florida’s west coast. 

Red tide devastated the redfish and snook populations and prompted officials to enforce a catch-and-release order in September.

“It affected the stock, it affected the anglers, it affected the economy,” said Brian Gorski with the Coastal Conservation Association.

Researchers say the water is now free of red tide dangers, and work can begin to bring fish population numbers back to where they should be.

“It’s a good feeling that people care about the environment,” said Jim McCarthy who fishes often near Brasher’s Park in Pasco County and came to watch Tuesday’s fish release.

Each of the upcoming releases include approximately 1,500 juvenile fish and 25 to 30 adult redfish per county, all hatchery-reared at the Duke Energy Mariculture Center.

Upcoming redfish release locations are the following, but dates are tentative: 

February 7 - Hillsborough County (Cockroach Bay Ramp, 11 a.m.)
February 7 - Pinellas County (Ft. De Soto Park, 3 p.m.)
February 12 - Sarasota and Charlotte Counties (locations TBD)
February 19 - Lee and Collier Counties (locations TBD)
TBD - Manatee County