Unpleasant Surprise in Mexico Beach Canal

By  | 

Since red snapper season opened Saturday, residents and visitors to Mexico Beach have dealt with some unpleasant sights in the Mexico Beach Canal and along the shore.

"We are upset and we are not stopping until we get it done," said Robert Hutson, a landowner in the area. "I don't care how far we have to go, we're gonna get it done and we're gonna stop it."

He's referring to fishermen discarding their fish carcasses in the Mexico Beach Canal. While fishermen understand the problems the floating heads can cause, they say they don't have any other options.

"People are able to go out in this brief season and catch some snapper and of course this system is something that needs to be maintained," said recreational fisherman, Neal Dansby. "Now the problem is the whole carcass or head floats up then people are offended by the smell and by the sight and we understand that."

Coleman Tatum, another recreational fisherman admitted to tossing fish heads in the canal himself.

"We do it for several reasons. One reason is there's not a place to put the fish heads locally," Tatum said. "So if you're gonna throw carcasses, this is where it's going to have to go unless you're gonna take them offshore and then take 'em off shore, they're just gonna float back to the beach anyway."

City officials are torn over how to address the issue. Two years ago, they implemented a new policy for carcass disposal, putting in dumpster to hold the fish.

"After hearing complaints about the dumpsters that was used, decided that we should go back to the fish cleaning stations down on the docks," explained Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey. "Snapper season opened Saturday and it just may be that the council maybe we didn't consider the volume of fish that was gonna be cleaned and how many carcasses and how many fish heads were gonna be in the canal."

Both the fishermen and those upset about the fish say the city should consider using a grinder to create chum that can be put back into the water to feed the fish, however city officials say they aren't sure if that costly option is the right answer either.

The FWC says on their website that they do not have regulations regarding the disposal of fish carcasses.