Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a research bill committing millions of dollars to fight red tide, which is wreaking havoc on Florida’s coasts.
“If we don’t do all that we can to maintain our natural resources, you will see our economy suffer,” DeSantis said at the bill signing.
Bill SB 1552, sponsored Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters, establishes the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative and the Initiative Technology Advisory Council.
“The bold environmental agenda set forth by Governor DeSantis and the passing of this legislation are turning points in the State of Florida’s approach to our challenging water quality issues,” Gruters said. “I am proud to have sponsored this legislation to help better protect our natural resources by mitigating the harmful effects of red tide.”
The Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative is a partnership between Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
“We are grateful for a historic level of support demonstrated by this year’s state Legislature and Governor DeSantis for addressing significant environmental challenges to our coastal marine environment,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, the president of Mote.
The Sunshine State is committing $18 million – $3 million a year for six years – to combat the destructive algae bloom that’s decimated local sea life populations and hampered local economies.
“This initiative provides vital and consistent funding for science-based solutions to red tide impacts,” said Crosby, who will lead the Initiative Technology Advisory Council.
The law requires that the Initiative Technology Advisory Council meets twice a year. The other five council seats will be filled by:
One person from a private commercial enterprise (appointed by the governor)
One person from a public or private Florida university (appointed by the president of the Senate)
One person from a nonuniversity public or private marine environmental organization (appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives)
One person from the Department of Environmental Protection who has expertise in red tide (appointed by the secretary of Environmental Protection)
One person from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute who has expertise in red tide (appointed by the executive director of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)
“Innovative technologies will play a vital role in our continued efforts to address water quality issues facing our state and I’m confident this partnership between FWC and Mote Marine will advance our knowledge in this area,” DeSantis said.
The money will flow from the General Revenue Fund to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who’s ready to tackle the issue.
“We want to thank Governor DeSantis for his leadership in prioritizing Florida’s natural resources,” said FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton. “With his support and our strong partnerships, we can accelerate our understanding of the causes and explore the possibilities of managing red tide.”
The Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative must submit its first yearly report starting January 15, 2021. The report will contain “an overview of its accomplishments to date and priorities for subsequent years to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Secretary of Environmental Protection, and the executive director of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”
Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.