City leaders speak on illegal use of fertilizer, water being safe for humans after fish kill in Biscayne Bay

MIAMI (WSVN) - After thousands of fish turned up dead in Biscayne Bay, saving sea life has become a top priority for local leaders.

Several videos and pictures made rounds on social media, which captured thousands of dead sea life floating near shores and laying on the sand.

“We’ve had enough of this [expletive] — because that’s what is in the water,” City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said.

Some measures have gone into place to try to prevent another fish kill from taking place. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has been oxygenating the water using fire boats, and several pumps have been put in place to increase oxygen levels in the water.

City leaders on Tuesday gathered at Morningside Park, at 750 NE 55th Terrace, to talk about their plan, which includes investing more than $250,000 into wastewater systems that empty out into the bay.

“This particular fish kill is greater in scale than what we’ve ever seen,” City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “This will allow us to filter a lot of the sediments, the pesticides and also the plastic that ultimately ends up in our bay.”

Officials hope the investment will prevent items such as plastic from getting into the water. Another large part of their plan is an education campaign.

The fish kill, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is not a result of human activity, but because as the water level rises, the oxygen level decreases.

They said, however, that there are aspects of human activity that may have contributed to how bad this incident was. One of these aspects, they said, is fertilizer runoff.

Kelly Cox is a representative of the Miami Waterkeepers, and she said the data backs up that claim.

“These nutrients do not accumulate in such high levels naturally in this ecosystem, and Biscayne Bay is exquisitely sensitive to nutrient accumulation,” Cox said.

Members of the public are being reminded that they should not be using fertilizer in the City of Miami during the rainy season, as it is against the law.

City leaders also reached out to individuals and businesses like Home Depot asking that they refrain from selling this product in Miami during the rainy season.

Suarez made it clear that it is safe to go into the water, but that people need to educate themselves and take care of Biscayne Bay.

“There isn’t a runoff, there isn’t a particular sewage leak that we’re able to identify, which like you said, maybe made the water uninhabitable for human beings,” he said, “but nevertheless, you know, the fact that there is low levels of oxygen probably have a multitude of different contributing factors.”

City leaders are planning to send out pamphlets and flyers across the city to remind residents not to use fertilizers and to let them know the water remains safe for humans. It will also list ways individuals can ensure another fish kill does not become as bad as this past one.

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