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Red Tide and Harmful Algal Blooms Addressed in Bipartisan Bill

July 15, 2020 by Dan McCue
Red Tide (NOAA Photo)

WASHINGTON – Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., have introduced legislation that would create Centers of Excellence on Harmful Algal Bloom research, prevention, response, and mitigation to aid in the fight against harmful outbreaks of red tide and blue-green algae.

Between October 2017 and early 2019, Florida experienced one of the longest and most severe red tide outbreaks on record, killing hundreds of tons of fish, sickening countless people and marine life, and hammering Florida’s economy.

H.R. 7450, the Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms Act, would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate new Centers of Excellence to bolster the existing work on harmful algae blues.

This would include formalizing the partnership among local, state, and federal stakeholders to develop ways to prevent, respond to, and mitigate harmful algal blooms.

“Floridians know well the devastating impacts of harmful algae blooms — the toll they take on our beaches, waterways, and wildlife; the stench that fills our air, burns our eyes, and makes it hard to breath; and the damage they cause to our hotels, businesses, and economy,” Rep. Crist said.

“With my friend Congressman Posey, we’ve come up with a proposal that would bolster efforts to combat this environmental threat, protecting coastal communities not only in Pinellas, but across the state and nation,” he added.

Rep. Posey said he believes the legislation will lead to the development of better science that can then be applied to protect our estuaries and other natural treasures.

Steven Currall, of the University of South Florida, said the creation of national centers of excellence, together with additional resources, will lead to consistent and targeted research to better understand, respond to and prevent outbreaks.

Jon Paul Brooker, senior manager and policy counsel for Florida Conservation, Ocean Conservancy, said such efforts are vital if the state and its residents are going to eventually prevent the destructive phenomenon.

Organizations eligible for the designation include institutions of higher education like the University of South Florida, non-profit laboratories like Mote Marine, and state research agencies like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Eligible entities could receive a Center of Excellence designation for at least five years.

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