High levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxins found in our waterways have been a concern for many years, especially because these harmful elements are often found in fish. This means that fatty fish, which are a major part of a recommended diet and contain healthy omega 3 fatty acids, could be putting some consumers at risk. Because of this, the state of Florida is currently seeking a grant that would help them restore a number of the area’s polluted and damaged watersheds.
A number of waterways in Florida, including Perdido Bay and Tampa Bay, were significantly damaged after the BP oil spill in 2012, putting many species and the fishing industry at risk. Now, the state has submitted proposals totaling $77 million to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to help complete 20 projects on 10 of Florida’s watersheds. Under the RESTORE Act, the Council manages five different pots of money that collects administrative and civil penalties from companies responsible for the oil spill. Unfortunately, only the offshore drilling contractor Transocean has paid into pot at this point, making $150 to $180 million available to 11 different entities, including five Gulf Coast states and six federal agencies.
If the proposals are accepted, they would largely focus on improving water quality by installing living shorelines, wastewater reuse efforts, waste and stormwater improvement, and contaminated sediment planning. However, officials have commented that there is no guarantee that the projects will get funded due to the high level of competition between the different states and organizations eligible for funding. Over 50 projects are currently being considered by the Council, and for good reason: the oil spill caused significant damage to a number of areas, putting many people and native species at risk. The long term effects of the incident are still being assessed, but experts have stated that the food web in the region has likely been affected.
Because of the poor water quality at the very least, many consumers are concerned about the fish that comes from the Gulf Coast. While organizations like the American Heart Association recommend that consumers eat fatty fish at least twice a week to access a healthy level of omega-3s, fears of mercury poisoning and other problems have caused many people to turn to fish oil supplements. While fish oil supplements contain the same benefits of omega 3 fatty acids as regular fish, the oil has been purified to remove heavy metals and toxins. This allows people who take fish oil supplements to promote a healthy heart, reduce inflammation and more without exposing themselves to unhealthy elements.