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Human drugs are found in popular Florida fish, including in Tampa Bay

Potent drugs used to treat a range of human ailments, from heart disease to psychosis, are turning up in a popular Florida fish found in waters from the state’s northern coasts to the Keys, a new report found.

The study from the Bonefish Tarpon Trust and Florida International University found redfish, a copper-colored sportfish that inhabits waters from St. Augustine to Pensacola, contaminated with the pharmaceuticals often leaked into coastal waters from failing septic tanks. The latest study builds on findings last year that detected the same drugs in bonefish around the Keys and in Biscayne Bay.

“The results underscore the urgent need to modernize Florida’s wastewater treatment systems,” BTT President Jim McDuffie said in a statement, threatening the state’s lucrative recreational fishing industry.

In its latest tally of economic impact, the American Sportfishing Association said Florida leads the nation by generating nearly $14 billion in recreational fishing annually.

For the year-long study, researchers and volunteers sampled more than 100 redfish, also called red drum, in nine estuaries that surround the state, from the Panhandle, south to Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, to Florida Bay and north to the Indian River Lagoon and Jacksonville.

Human drugs were found in every fish sampled, with at least two different kinds of drugs found on average in the fish. But some had as many as five different drugs.