[USA] U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Thursday he would urge congressional leaders to include money to combat red tide as part of the year-end government funding bill.
He said the federal money is needed for research on how red tide forms and dissipates and to understand its impact on humans and animals.
His comments came after the latest outbreak of the red tide algae to affect Southwest Florida beaches, which emerged in late September, fouling area beaches with its stench and dead fish.
Beach conditions have improved recently, with the latest conditions report on visitbeaches.org listing no respiratory problems or dead fish on Manatee or Sarasota beaches that are monitored. Two sites in south Charlotte County were listed as having problems.
In a news release, Buchanan said that after returning to Washington next month he would urge Congress to address the red tide issue with money, saying the harmful algae bloom has hurt the area’s environment and economy.
While he was encouraged to see the U.S. House recognize the “increasing prevalence” and threat posed by red tide in the committee-passed Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, he said it was only “the first small step in combating the recurring crisis,” the news release stated.
Harmful algae blooms cause $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries each year in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the release stated.
“Red tide is a clear and visible threat to the Suncoast’s environment and economy,” Buchanan said. “The recent bloom is devastating vulnerable marine life and discouraging tourists from visiting our beaches and coastal businesses. Congress needs to help protect our seashore by boosting red tide research and mitigation programs.”
The algae produces a toxin that can harm and kill a variety of animals, including birds, fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals such as dolphins and the Florida manatee. It can poison people who eat shellfish tainted by red tide and also causes respiratory problems for some people.
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