Off the Chain Fishing Charters scaling back on fishing tours as a result of algae blooms

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-26 07:00:37-04

Business owners in Martin County continue to feel the negative impacts of polluted water and potentially toxic conditions.

Captain Scott Fawcett, owner of Off the Chain Fishing Charters, is the latest of dozens of business owners having to make adjustments to stay afloat.

RELATED: Special section | Map of algae blooms in Florida

Fawcett posted to his Facebook page Monday that he is scaling back his fishing tours.

“Somebody in my position, when you’re in and out of it every day, getting splashed continually, your hands are cut up from wire and line and whatever, it’s just a risk that I don’t want to continue taking,” Fawcett said.

Fawcett says, for now, he’s going to be doing fewer local fishing tours, meaning nothing near the shore. He will still be taking tours farther off the shore, beyond ten miles. He says that limits his business opportunity.

“Some people don’t want to commit to full day out on the water so right there that’s going to affect us,” Fawcett said.

He relies on repeat business. Lately, he worries the conditions his customers have been dealing with will keep them from booking future trips.

“The last handful of trips we’ve gone on have ended with me apologizing to the clients,” Fawcett said, offering them discounts as an incentive to book with him another time.

“Our live wells are filled with algae. You can see the chunks floating around.”

Fawcett started noticing the impacts of Lake Okeechobee releases miles out into the ocean in February this year.

He never imagined the conditions would become so devastating, with algae blanketing some parts of the St. Lucie River.

He says he’s seen algae miles offshore.

He has considered doing more fishing charters south and north of the Treasure Coast and has some trips planned out of the state.

He will reevaluate doing more local tours in September.