Manatee to Partner With Shrimpers in Red Tide Fight

Todays News

Graphic courtesy FWC.

As red tide deals a blow to marine life in Tampa Bay, Manatee County officials want to collaborate with the fishing industry to protect local shores. County officials stepped up raking efforts on Anna Maria Island to keep all red tide debris from the sands. Now, county commissioner will deliberate on Tuesday about a $500,000 agreement with shrimp boat captains to police the waters and guard from such toxins nearing the beaches.

“We are staying ahead of this situation and we’ll be announcing additional efforts to keep our beaches clean and clear in the coming days,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes. “Multiple County departments and dozens of our staff are making considerable efforts behind the scenes to ensure we know where red tide is, where it’s headed and how we’ll address it before it impacts our local beaches.” 

The agreement in front of commissioners as drafted would direct Tourism Development Tax revenue toward paying shrimp boats to capture red-tide related debris out at sea.

While the most recent Karenia brevis outbreaks don’t hit the same wide area as major red tide blooms did in 2018, there’s concerns problems could flow south from Tampa Bay. But the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission continues to track the levels of the algae in water around the area. As of Sunday evening, red tide levels have been detected as 'high,' meaning there are greater than 1 million Karenia brevis cells per liter in the water, at four test sites along Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. The tests were for samples collected at the 10th Street Pier, Longboat Pass Boat Ramp, Longboat Key Beach and North Lido Beach. Another eight coastal sites in Sarasota and Manatee County had concentrations less than 1 million but greater than 100,000 cells per liter.

County officials have seen concentrations of fish deaths around Longboat Pass, Coquina North and South and the Kingfish boat ramps.

Notably, many waterway observers express some concern a disaster at the Piney Point site in Manatee County, where state officials had to pump industrial wastewater directly into the Bay out of fear of a breach, may have contributed to the current red tide bloom. But Department of Environmental Protection officials say that spillage, which entered Tampa Bay waters months ago, likely was not the direct cause of the recent surge.

 

Graphic courtesy FWC.

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