Funding Bill Includes $8M for Red Tide



A sweeping funding bill out of Washington includes $8 million set aside to combat toxic algae blooms following the passage of legislation sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. The congressman hopes to see much of that go to institutions on the Gulf Coast. “Our community has some of the most distinguished red tide researchers in the world and we will be working with NOAA to ensure that they get a crack at the funding,” Buchanan tells SRQ.

The funding goes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After Buchanan’s office announced the opportunity, Mote Marine Laboratory CEO Michael Crosby issued a statement praising action, stating that the increased funding will “significantly bolster the scientific community’s research to detect, respond to and develop innovative technologies to lessen the impacts from some of the country’s most challenging harmful algal blooms - red tide - on our environment, marine life and human health.”

Buchanan said red tide threatens not only the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, but the economy in regions adjacent. “We need to understand more about the toxins in red tide so we can stop the damaging effects,” Buchanan says. NOAA estimates harmful algal blooms cause $82 million in economic losses annually for the seafood, restaurant and tourist industries, all of which have a strong presence in this region.

Much of that comes because of the poisoning of seafood by the algal blooms. Blooms can also force beach closures and swimming bans.

The funding was included in a bill to keep the federal government open through September. President Donald Trump signed the bill last week.

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