STUART, Fla. - Local charter fishing boat captain Mike Conner says his business is going nowhere fast. It is the result, Conner says, of government inaction surrounding toxic water on the Treasure Coast. Governor Rick Scott was in Stuart Tuesday, but most pleas from the public were left unanswered.
There have been some rough waters for charter fishing boat Capt. Conner as of late.
"I'm not fishing anymore," he said. "I sure can't take people out for money to do the same." Toxic algae bloom has literally shut his business down. Dozens of charter bookings he scheduled had to be canceled and tens of thousands of dollars could be lost, he says, because of the condition of the water. "Full of silt, full of mud, full of foam and full of algae," he said.
From his 17-foot in-shore vessel, Capt. Conner could hear the crowds on shore as Governor Scott arrived at the St. Lucie Locks to see just how serious - how toxic - the water of the St. Lucie Estuary has become.
"The federal government has got to stand up," Scott told news reporters. "We're paying our taxes. This is so unfair to Florida citizens. We pay our taxes. They need to show up and fund the projects they committed to fund," he said.
Those were strong words for the federal government, but there were no words for the people who rely on the waterways every day.
"He never even addressed the crowd or said a thing," said Conner. "I was a little taken aback by that." None of the public were able to speak with Scott.
"The Governor did not get up on the soapbox and give us a nice talk and assure us that things are going to be ok because I don't think he knows that at all," said Conner.
Capt. Conner is calling for action from the governor and the Army Corps of Engineers, which facilitates the massive discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Conner is considering filing a lost wages claim against the Army Corps of Engineers. He is also considering working with other impacted Treasure Coast business owners to put together a class-action lawsuit. He says that would send a message that he is serious about keeping his business - and other businesses - from sinking any further. "Look what the government has pushed us to do, " he said.
The governor told the media that he is dedicated working with the federal government to address releases from Lake Okeechobee.
The Army Corps of Engineers released a statement Tuesday night reiterating that the Army Corps can only operate within the authorities given to them.
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