Seafood may become more expensive due to recent storms
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Even though Tropical Storms Isaac and Debby are long gone, folks in Southwest Florida may still be reeling from its affects. Boaters say the storms crippled the channels along Fort Myers Beach, jeopardizing the local seafood industry which could make your next dinner more expensive.
Four in your Corner's Mike Mason is here live to explain.
Shrimp Season is set to begin soon and captains from around the country will be heading to Southwest Florida but some say storm damage under the water may have boaters blocked out.
There's no doubt tourists here love their seafood. Captain Don Jones has been running a charter fishing operation out of Fort Myers Beach for the past 30 years but he's afraid it may soon become much more difficult to reel in customers.
Don Jones: "We grouper fish, snapper fish that's what most of us in the charter business out of this marina do is offshore but any of the big boats are going to have a problem."
Jones says recent storms have slammed Matanzas Pass, making the area impassible for boaters. With shrimp season just around the corner, it could cripple the industry along Fort Myers Beach.
Don Jones: "They're not going to be able to make it to port, you're going to have a lot of angry boat owners, fish houses and everything else."
And that could cost you a lot more clams the next time you go out for a seafood dinner.
Don Jones: "The boats can't get in here so they're going to travel the shrimp somewhere else to unload them so we're going to pay a higher price for them."
Captain Gene Becker doubts shrimpers will even be able to use Matanzas Pass. In July we rode along with him to survey the damage caused by Tropical Storm Debby.
Capt. Gene Becker: "Somebody needs to get out here before the next storm because it will probably shut a lot of businesses down if we can't get out of this pass safely."
Just last week we went back out to see how Isaac impacted the pass. Boaters usually navigate around marker 4 but now it's too shallow. Over the weekend, Becker took this photograph at marker 4. He's standing where his 75-foot boat used to pass through just a few months ago
Boaters say if things don't get better soon, fishing may be better left for the birds.
Don Jones: "There's no way they can come to port right now the way the channel is."
We spoke with county officials who say the Army Corps of Engineers is set to begin dredging Matanzas Pass in a few weeks. Officials say they're trying to get the project underway even sooner....we'll let you know how it turns out.