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CDC studying algae impacts on fishermen

Posted at 9:31 AM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 09:31:30-04

CLEWISTON, Fla. — At Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston, business depends on Lake Okeechobee.

“Yeah, without a lake this place wouldn’t exist,” said Ramon Iglesias, general manager at Roland Martin Marina.

On Monday, Iglesias reacted to news the CDC is planning research to study the long-term health effects of harmful algal blooms to fishing guides on Lake Okeechobee.

“Algae is not a Florida problem and it’s sure just not a Lake O problem, it’s a worldwide phenomenon,” said Iglesias, who added he welcomes the research.

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The CDC says it will study fishing guides and people who lead charter fishing expeditions, those on the water likely to be exposed to the lake’s blooms.

“Honestly, I welcome anything, any kind of study anyone wants to do on Lake O because I live out here,” said Tom Mann Jr, who has been fishing Lake Okeechobee since 1983.

Mann says he spends about 240 days a year sitting on the water, and he fished through last year’s harmful algal blooms.

“I fished everyday right on that water, I have no side effects, I saw no dead fish,” Mann said.

Some studies say exposure to the blooms can lead to cancer and other diseases. Scientists will focus on the airborne toxins from the blooms and the health of the guides.

“I don’t think they’re going to find what they’re wanting to find out,” Iglesias said.

A lot of details regarding the study are still being worked out, but the CDC would like to begin early next year, and studying the guides will take several months.