Buchanan Praises DeSantis Commitment to Combating Red Tide
SARASOTA – Congressman Vern Buchanan applauded Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ formation of the Red Tide Task Force to study the causes of the harmful algae.
“Governor DeSantis continues to demonstrate that combatting red tide is a priority,” Buchanan said. “I am encouraged to see the task force will be working alongside Mote Marine as they seek answers on how we can counter this plague. This is a critical issue in Florida and deserves proper attention on both the state and federal level.”
In January, Buchanan wrote a letter to Governor DeSantis praising his establishment of a Blue-Green Algae Taskforce aimed at reducing the impacts of these toxic blooms and also encouraged him to “include efforts to study and mitigate the damaging effects of red tide with equal vigor.”
According to the governor’s office, the Task Force had been dormant for the last 15 years until its reorganization this past week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Last year Florida suffered one of the worst bouts of red tide in the state’s history. The bloom, which finally dissipated this past February, had plagued the coast for more than 15 months. Southwest Florida is uniquely vulnerable to red tide, as it has seen this algae bloom more than twice as often as any other area in the state.
Red tide is a toxin-producing algae that killed thousands of fish and affected tourism in the Suncoast region. Last year alone, the algae killed hundreds of dolphins and manatees as well as countless other marine animals. Thousands of tons of dead marine life washed ashore local beaches, causing significant hardship on both local residents and county governments.
“Red tide is a massive burden on Florida’s economy, environment, and quality of life,” Buchanan continued. “Last year, we witnessed a nearly unprecedented bloom wreak havoc on the Suncoast. With the threat of red tide lurking for years to come, research efforts must remain robust.”
Calls to the Florida Poison Control Center due to red tide more than tripled from 2017 to 2018. The Florida Department of Health even advises that people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions should steer clear of red tide waters.
In one local case last year, a pregnant Siesta Key woman suffering from health ailments and was forced to relocate from her home near red tide.
According to NOAA, harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the United States.
During a July press conference at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, medical specialists and researchers praised a Buchanan amendment passed by the U.S. House instructing the National Institutes of Health to designate $6.25 million to research the long-term health effects of red tide and other Harmful Algal Blooms on humans.
Last month, Buchanan also toured the Robinson Preserve in Manatee County to monitor the blooms impacting the area. In 2018, a Buchanan proposal to increase funding for red tide research by $8 million was signed into law.
In February, Buchanan chaired a hearing on some of the most pressing water quality issues affecting the Sunshine State. Last year, Buchanan also backed a proposal that was signed by President Trump to provide more than $100 million to combat Harmful Algal Blooms such as red tide.