Gov. Scott declares state of emergency due to red tide

Sen. Bill Nelson D-Fla. speaks during a roundtable discussion with education leaders from South Florida at the United Teachers of Dade headquarters Monday Aug. 6 2018 in Miami

Sen. Bill Nelson D-Fla. speaks during a roundtable discussion with education leaders from South Florida at the United Teachers of Dade headquarters Monday Aug. 6 2018 in Miami

Florida Governor Rick Scott has issued an Executive Order, declaring a state of emergency due to impacts of the red tide in several Florida counties.

The state executive order 18-221 was announced August 13 - after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties - sending aid to responders in their efforts to combat red tide.

A news release from Scott's office said his order will free up $500,000 for the state's tourism agency, Visit Florida, to establish an emergency grant program and a new marketing campaign to help local communities hit hard by the bloom and subsequent fish kills "continue to bring in the visitors".

"Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide, so we can combat its awful impacts", Scott said in a news release.

While not unprecedented - an 18-month bloom harassed the coast between 2004 and 2006 - Mote Marine staff scientist Tracy Fanara said the red tide has lasted longer into the spring and summer the past three years. Piles of dead fish have been found along the West Coast of Florida.




Under the declaration, more than $100,000 will be given to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota to increase local efforts to save animals affected by red tide.

For marine life, red tide has caused widespread fish kills and killed other marine life.

County health departments, according to Scott's office, are actively posting signage warning beachgoers and boaters of red tide-affected areas. They just wrote back.

Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis said those two counties were included because they are considered "at risk" of being hit by the bloom in the near future. What is going on? Holmes Beach is one area that's asking for volunteers to help. "This is a real crisis - we need all hands on deck!"

Red tide is a term that describes a harmful algal bloom (HAB), which occurs "when colonies of algae-simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater-grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds" according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service. "It's very dependent on the strength and direction of winds and currents, and red tide can also feed off nutrients and runoff from land".

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