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Environment

Red Tide Task Force Finalizes Proposal For Legislature

january_24_2020_red_tide_map_fwc.jpg
State wildlife officials report on their website that red tide organisms have been recently observed at background concentrations in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties, which is normal and not alarming. Credit: FWC

Florida's red tide task force has finalized its recommendations for solutions to the toxic algae blooms and plans to deliver them to lawmakers later this week. 

The group of 11 members met several times and spent hours agreeing on language for solutions.

Barbara Kirkpatrick, a scientist on the task force, said the proposals fall under four categories:

Public health: More work needs to be done to understand the long term health effects of the red tide neurotoxins in people. An emergency room study showed that admissions go up for headache during red tide. 

Outreach and education: Right now, if you look into shellfish concerns, or the health status report, you have to go to seperate state agency websites. The task force wants to make a comprehensive one-stop-shop website that’s easy for people to get all the information in one place.

Monitoring: To better forecast who's going to be impacted, the task force suggests more monitoring of the blooms when they occur. Specifically, which beaches are going to be impacted so coastal managers can be ready with emergency response and try to minimize the impact on local communities.

Research: Kirkpatrck said there's still a lot we don't know about the red tide organism, Karenia brevis. There’s still a lot of basic understanding needed about its life cycle.

A final copy of the group's recommendations will be made public and sent to Tallahassee by the end of this week.

Kirkpatrick hopes that after state legislators review the proposal, they will openly communicate with the task force throughout the session.

"We'd like to have a continuing conversation about this, and not have it be just a one time document," she said.

The red tide task force plans to reconvene in April.