On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis held a roundtable with scientists, researchers and local business owners to discuss Florida’s commitment to combating red tide.
“Since taking office, I have been hyper-focused on protecting our state’s water resources,” said DeSantis. “We have made strategic investments in red tide research, mitigation and communication efforts, but we cannot take our foot off the gas. My administration will continue to press forward to find solutions to the complex issues surrounding red tide.”
“For decades, red tide has been an ongoing environmental threat in Florida, impacting businesses, beaches, and our quality of life, but rather than accept these yearly impacts as unavoidable, our administration is committed to finding solutions,” said Lt. Gov.Jeanette Nuñez. “Governor DeSantis has led a statewide effort to research and mitigate red tide, and we look forward to continuing to invest in these important initiatives to remove these invasive blooms from our shores.”
“Governor DeSantis has been a champion for conservation and the environment. Today’s roundtable and his actions are evidence of his commitment to ensuring Florida’s natural resources will be conserved for future generations,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton. “In the recent budget, the $4.8 million to continue supporting the Center for Red Tide Research was critical to the ongoing protection of our water resources. With the Governor’s support, we’ve stepped up community science and volunteer networks, invested in automated monitoring technology and improved our analytical capabilities.”
“Governor DeSantis has made it clear that the water quality in this state is a top priority,” said DEP Interim Sec. Shawn Hamilton. “Continued strategic, science-based, immediate actions will allow us to make meaningful progress in our efforts to combat red tide. As a result of the Governor’s leadership, the state has the support and resources to further partnerships, research and mitigation, which will remain critical to our success in addressing the impacts of red tide on our environment and communities.”
“Red tides are complex phenomena and we have much to learn about their dynamics,” said Dr. Tom Frazer, the dean and a professor at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and former Chief Science Officer. “We do know, however, that increased nutrient delivery to our coastal waters can exacerbate red tide events and every effort should be made to reduce nutrient pollution. Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the state is working extremely hard on that front. The state has also invested heavily in the science and technology needed to better understand and mitigate the effects of red tides and other harmful algal blooms. It is in all of our best interest to do so.”
Upon taking office, DeSantis tackled Florida’s critical water issues in his Executive Order 19-12 (Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment), including the reactivation of the long-dormant Red Tide Task Force. Under the governor’s direction, the Red Tide Task Force adopted an initial short-term, top-priority focus on some key issues associated with red tide including public health, communications, management and response and research. The Task Force continues to meet at least quarterly to further the state’s efforts to combat red tide.
Since 2019, the state has dedicated more than $14.5 million to the Center for Red Tide Research at FWC, which was created in 2019 at DeSantis’ request. Additionally, in his first legislative session, DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 1552, which established the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative, a partnership between FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory to develop technologies and approaches to control and mitigate red tide and its impacts. Senate Bill 1552 provided a $3 million annual appropriation to the initiative for six years, totaling $18 million.