Jan 25, 2022 - News

Algal bloom crisis to get worse in Florida

Thousands of dead fish float in the Boca Ciega Bay last year.
Thousands of dead fish float in Boca Ciega Bay last year. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Red tide in Florida may soon be uncontrollable.

What's happening: A task force appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to address the state's algal bloom crisis concluded that "without hard work and careful planning," more people will suffer from respiratory illnesses and more animals will die, per Inside Climate News.

Why it matters: The biological devastation we saw β€” and smelled β€” this summer on Tampa Bay beaches could become a regular part of life if something doesn't change fast.

  • That could lead to our fishing and tourism industries taking major blows.

Driving the news: The impacts of climate change that cause red tide "may be impossible to change," the task force concluded.

  • The report released earlier this month recommends more research into the causes of red tides, more investment in mitigation technologies and continued work under the Clean Waterways Act of 2020.

Yes, but: Critics are saying the report isn't tough enough on known polluters and that existing laws like the Clean Waterways Act need to be stricter and better enforced.

What they're saying: "The task force recommends throwing taxpayer money at unproven mitigation technologies," Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Inside Climate News. "If the state regulators instead just stopped pollution at the source by holding polluters accountable, Florida would have a much better chance at turning the corner on its water quality crisis."

  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission representatives did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

Flashback: Pinellas County just cleaned up nearly 1,700 tons of dead fish after the Tampa Bay red tide outbreak last summer.

  • In the red tide bloom of 2017-19, Pinellas spent more than $7 million removing 1,800 tons of dead marine life.
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