U.S. House Passes Buchanan Legislation to Fight Red Tide
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan’s legislation dedicating $8 million to combat red tide passed the U.S. House today. The proposal was included in a government funding bill that now goes to the Senate for consideration.
“Southwest Florida is a beautiful, vibrant place to live and we need to address any threat to our pristine environment and way of life,” Buchanan said. “We need to understand more about the toxins in red tide so we can stop their damaging effects.”
Buchanan's red tide amendment increases funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by $8 million to provide additional resources to reduce the threat of red tide – a toxin-producing algae that has killed thousands of fish and affected tourism in the Suncoast region.
Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, praised Buchanan’s legislation saying the increased funding will “significantly bolster the scientific community’s research to detect, respond to and develop innovative technologies to lessen the impacts from some of the country’s most challenging harmful algal blooms - red tide - on our environment, marine life and human health. We appreciate Congressman Buchanan's relentless attention to this important issue for our region.”
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 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.