Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill aimed at fighting red tide.
Speaking at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota Thursday, DeSantis said the state will commit $18 million over the next six years to research and mitigate the effects of another potentially devastating toxic algal bloom.
The legislation establishes the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative.
"Although red tide blooms occur annually and have been documented along our coast as far back as the mid-1800's, recently our state experienced one of its most severe red tide blooms on record,” DeSantis said. “Spanning 16 months from November 2017 until February this year, the red tide event was the fifth longest since 1953 and the first since 2007 to impact Florida’s southwest, northwest and east coast simultaneously.”
Mote Marine Laboratory will work with the State Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and will lead the development of technologies needed to combat red tide.
Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote's CEO, said the organization welcomes the opportunity to serve in a leadership role.
"This initiative provides vital and consistent funding for science-based solutions to red tide that negatively impacts our economy, our environment and indeed our quality of life here in Florida,” he said. “This new strategic investment is a game-changer.”
The bill provides for an annual appropriation of $3 million beginning in the 2019-2020 fiscal year and through the 2024-2025 fiscal year from the General Revenue Fund to FWC for the purpose of implementing the legislation.
Last August, Visit Sarasota, the official tourism agency for Sarasota County conducted a survey of businesses. A majority reported a slump in revenue due to the fish kills and odor which impacted tourism in southwest Florida.
According to Mote research, there is yet no tried and true way to combat some of the more harmful algal blooms.