On March 14, 2023, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Acting Executive Director Dr. Thomas Eason and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton participated in a flyover to observe current red tide conditions firsthand and meet with local stakeholders. The state is taking an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to respond to the red tide impacting Florida’s west coast. The FWC, DEP and Florida Department of Health are working together to ensure a coordinated state response and are committed to coordinating with local governments to provide resources to assist in cleanup efforts and will continue to monitor the red tide bloom to ensure that all local needs are being met.
“Red tide blooms can cause significant impacts to our local communities,” said FWC Acting Executive Director Dr. Thomas Eason. “On Tuesday, I joined DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton to view firsthand the current conditions affecting Southwest Florida. We met with local leaders to ensure we are providing the information, scientific data and assistance needed regarding red tide research and management.”
“Earlier this week, I was able to view firsthand the impacts of the red tide bloom along Florida’s Gulf Coast,” said Shawn Hamilton, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. “Our coordinated state approach includes getting out to these impacted communities, speaking directly to stakeholders and local leadership, and ensuring the state is providing them with the critical assistance they need to enhance their response efforts. Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEP is able to provide funding assistance to our impacted communities for cleanup solutions.”
The FWC is closely monitoring a red tide bloom across Southwest Florida, including Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Red tide (Karenia brevis) is a naturally occurring microscopic algae that has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s and occurs nearly every year.
In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23 budget, $4.8 million was earmarked for or directed to the Center for Red Tide Research at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The center was created at the request of Governor Ron DeSantis in 2019 to improve statewide red tide monitoring techniques and conduct research to better track, predict and mitigate the effects of red tide on Florida communities. The Center for Red Tide Research brings together state and local governments, universities, private sector partners and citizen scientists to enhance statewide red tide monitoring and conduct applied research on red tide.
In response to the most recent bloom event, DEP began an outreach effort in November of 2022 to counties along the west coast of Florida that were seeing red tide formations resulting in fish kills.
To support cleanup efforts, $5 million was appropriated for FY 2022-23 and another $5 million is proposed for FY 2023-24. In response to the most recent bloom event, DEP began an outreach effort back in November of 2022 to counties along the west coast of Florida that were beginning to see red tide formations resulting in fish kills. DEP has signed and executed funding agreements with Lee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties to assist with local red tide cleanup efforts, and as a result, more than 45 tons of biological debris has been removed and properly disposed. Agreements have also been drafted for Charlotte, Collier, Manatee and Pasco counties, and conversations are ongoing with Hillsborough County.
FWC, DEP and the Florida Department of Health remain committed to working with local governments to provide resources to assist in cleanup efforts and will continue to monitor the red tide bloom to ensure that all local needs are being met.
Red tide conditions can change quickly. To check red tide levels in your area, view our red tide daily sample map at MyFWC.com/redtidemap and our latest red tide current status report, updated each Wednesday and Friday by going to MyFWC.com/research and clicking “Red Tide Current Status.” Please report fish kills one of three ways: FWC Reporter app, online at bit.ly/2naTuM8 or the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511.
For more information regarding red tide, visit MyFWC.com/research and click on “Red Tide” and ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov.