Fish kill should be declared ‘state of emergency,' Brevard County commissioner says

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A massive fish kill in Brevard County left tens of thousands of fish dead and rotting on beaches and in the water, leaving area residents to deal with the smell and their removal.

As the cleanup continues, more than 20,000 dead fish were hauled away by volunteers Thursday.

While there is still a lot to do to clean up the mess, one county commissioner wants to know why it happened in the first place.

If she has to, Brevard County commissioner Trudie Infantini plans to take her concerns all the way to Tallahassee and the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

“This is truly a statewide problem for the health and safety of the public,” she said.

Just cleaning up the fish isn’t enough for Infantini, she wants to know why the fish died, and until the reason is uncovered, she couldn’t be sure the water is safe for people.

“Until we know, do you want one of your kids swimming in the lagoon?” she asked.

Infantini wants the county commission to declare the fish kill in the Indian River Lagoon Brevard County’s highest priority.

That way, the issue will carry more weight when it’s taken to Scott to ask for a declaration of a state of emergency.

Volunteers and county staff have spent days cleaning the lagoon and clearing out the dead fish before the stench intensified.

Tourism in the area will take a serious hit if the fish aren’t removed, and the ramifications will be worse if it happens again, Infantini said.

“We spend a lot of money attracting business here, (but) who wants to come if we have a dead lagoon?” she asked. “We want to see that we are doing things right and figure out what we can. You know, get a bigger handle on it.”

Currently, experts’ best theory is that a brown algae bloom may have caused oxygen levels in the lagoon to fall, killing the fish.

Infantini and other commissioners, though, want to completely rule out the possibility that some sort of toxin may have been involved.

“I don’t want someone going home with a fish they caught from the lagoon, taking it to their family and they get sick,” Infantini said.