Buchanan at Mote Marine Discusses Funding to Fight Red Tide
Congressman, Scientist Discuss Current Red Tide Outbreak
SARASOTA – Congressman Vern Buchanan visited Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota today to discuss federal funding to fight Red Tide. The government funding bill signed into law earlier this year included legislation introduced by Buchanan dedicating $8 million to combat red tide, a toxin-producing algae currently killing fish and impacting some Suncoast beaches.
“People visit and move to Florida to enjoy our beautiful natural resources,” said Buchanan. “But the harmful effects of red tide kill sea life, threaten human health, and cost the economy millions of dollars in lost revenues. We need to understand more about the toxins in red tide so we can stop their damaging effects. The work being done here at Mote will help manage and mitigate the effects of red tide.”
Mote researchers work with NOAA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Health, the University of South Florida and others to investigate Florida's red tide to understand how blooms form, how they dissipate and what affects the blooms have on human and animal populations and whether bloom impacts can be mitigated through new methods and technologies.
Buchanan's legislation increased funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by $8 million to provide additional resources to reduce the threat of red tide.
“As a challenging Florida red tide bloom persists along the Gulf Coast, it is appropriate that Congressman Vern Buchanan chose to visit Mote Marine Laboratory’s City Island research campus today to discuss the latest developments in our innovative, red tide-focused science, technology and public outreach programs,” said Mote Marine Laboratory President and CEO, Dr. Michael Crosby.
“We recognize Congressman Buchanan for his relentless attention to addressing red tide, and we appreciate that the congressman turned to Mote recently for independent, objective expertise and science-based information as he championed a bipartisan effort resulting in $8 million appropriated to NOAA’s National Ocean Service to fight harmful algal bloom impacts. This meaningful contribution should help the U.S. government take its rightful place in support of much-needed, improved red tide research and mitigation efforts at state and local levels.”
Right now red tide levels are low to medium at many Suncoast beaches.
The harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the United States, according to NOAA.
Human consumption of shellfish contaminated from red tide areas can cause severe illness and even lead to death in certain circumstances. Additionally, people who swim in red tide or inhale the toxins while near the water can suffer from severe respiratory issues, skin irritation and rashes. The state’s health department even advises that people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions like asthma are especially vulnerable and should steer clear of red tide waters.
Buchanan, the co-chair of Florida's congressional delegation, has long placed a priority on combating red tide and cracking down on animal cruelty. He has successfully fought since 2007 for red tide research and was recently honored as the U.S. Humane Society's Legislator of the Year for his leadership on animal welfare issues. The measure was included in the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, which funds the federal government for fiscal year 2018.