fish kill press

Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Advisory Board meets on latest fish kill

By Karli Barnett

Updated on: October 25, 2022 / 5:18 PM / CBS Miami

Read the original article and watch the broadcast on CBS News.

MIAMI - The Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Advisory Board met Tuesday to discuss yet another recent fish kill in Biscayne Bay.

"Should the residents of Miami-Dade County anticipate yearly fish kills?" asked Miami-Dade Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins. "I mean is it not a safe assumption for people to have?"

"If the conditions are right, basically, yes," said a representative from the Division of Environmental Resource Management (DERM.)

It was a grim prediction for the future of Biscayne Bay, should current conditions continue.

Biscayne Bay has seen a yearly fish kill since 2020.

Last week, thousands of fish again washed up Bayfront Park, Miami Shores, North Bay Village, and North Miami Beach.

The county said 3,750 pounds of dead fish were removed from the bay over the last five days.

"Right now, we cannot make a determination whether it was the sanitary sewer overflow, the groundwater table, or if it was the manner in which water was being managed in our canals," said Rashid Istambouli, Interim Director of DERM. "I believe it is all part of it."

Tuesday, the Board talked about necessary improvements that need to be made.

"There's flooding in Brickell constantly," said Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. "Where is that water going? It's collecting all the chemicals and it's going to Biscayne Bay."

Biologists reported the oxygen levels in the Bay have started to improve.

Now, Dr. Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper says they are keeping a close eye out for harmful algae blooms.

"What's going on in the Bay right now is that it has too much pollution," she explained. "We know that's the underlying cause of the fish kill. It's pollution, specifically coming from land-based sources, septic tanks, sewage leaks, stormwater runoff, and fertilizer."

Further, she said Biscayne Bay is just not able to recover like it used to.

"The bay has lost its resilience. It is not able to undergo any shocks or stressors without causing a fish kill."

Miami-Dade County has been working on improvements such as the ongoing septic-to-sewer transition, water infrastructure upgrades, pollution reduction policies, and increased water quality testing.

If you see a fish kill, you can report it by calling 311 or the DERM hotline at 305-372-6955.

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