Funds to Battle Red Tide May be on the Way

In 2016, there was an outbreak of red tide in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It caused thousands of dead fish to wash ashore on beaches in those counties, harming the Suncoast environment and economy. At that time U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan said Congress should help address the red tide outbreak with additional funding. This September the Congressman was successful in his quest.

Congressman Buchanan’s legislation dedicating $8 million to combat red tide passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The proposal was included in a government funding bill that now goes to the Senate for consideration. It was included in the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, which funds the federal government for fiscal year 2018.

“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.”

The red tide amendment increases funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by $8 million to provide additional resources to reduce the threat of red tide.

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. Most people can swim in red tide, but it can cause skin irritation and burning eyes. Symptoms from breathing red tide toxins usually include coughing, sneezing, and teary eyes. People with chronic respiratory problems like asthma and COPD should avoid red tide areas.

In addition, the federal government has announced that it is funding a research project in seven states to try to better understand harmful algal blooms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is providing nearly $1.7 million for research projects about the blooms in Alaska, California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia.

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