Governor DeSantis announces $14 million to counter the red tide

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) — Governor Ron DeSantis is pledging $14 million to tackle Florida’s red tide problem.

At a press conference on Wednesday, May 4, the governor announced the money would be included in next year’s state budget to “better understand, detect and mitigate the red tide” in the state. . It’s a significant moment because it’s the most money Florida has ever poured into the red tide problem in a single year.

The money is distributed among a few organizations. $4.8 million goes to the Center for Red Tide Research. This center focuses on monitoring and tracking the red tide statewide and mitigating its impact.

Another $3 million is for the Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative. It’s a partnership between the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The lab is working on technology that can mitigate red tide and its impact on our environment.

Dr. Michael Crosby, CEO and President of Mote Marine, told the press conference that the lab is currently working on 25 projects and many of them are moving into field testing.

“The initiative has already identified well over a dozen different natural compounds, man-made compounds and new technologies that show great promise in reducing red blood cells and, importantly, toxin,” Crosby said. Plus, there’s an additional $20 million on the books to support the development of other technologies and help Florida counties clean up the red tide when it gets out of control. This is good news for environmental groups like Sarasota Bay Watch.

ABC7 caught up with them in April as they released clams into the bay, one of its programs to filter out harmful toxins in the water to reduce red tide. At the time, organizers said what they were doing was helpful, but serious progress can only be made in water quality when local and state government also throw their weight behind the problem.

“Is putting clams in the bay going to take care of that?” Rhonda Ryan, executive director of Sarasota Bay Watch, said. “No. But if we do what we can do and if public services and other organizations and institutions as well as legislation do what they can do, then we will make a difference.

Since DeSantis took office in 2019, the administration has spent $40 million to research and mitigate the red tide.

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