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Vern Buchanan wants Congress to address Sarasota and Manatee’s red tide problem

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Florida’s Gulf Coast has been contending with serious red tide issues over the last month, and Vern Buchanan says he wants Congress to address the issue before the end of the year.

“Red tide is a clear and visible threat to the Suncoast’s environment and economy,” the Sarasota Republican said in a statement Thursday. “The recent bloom is devastating vulnerable marine life and discouraging tourists from visiting our beaches and coastal businesses. Congress needs to help protect our seashore by boosting red tide research and mitigation programs.”

Buchanan says he is advocating that congressional leaders include funding to combat the harmful red tide algal blooms, also known as Karenia brevis, in any year-end government funding package. He said the federal funds are needed to research how red tide forms, how it dissipates and to understand its impact on humans and animals.

In their most recent Red Tide Status report, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission said red tide persists along a six-county stretch that includes Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties.

“Fish kills affecting multiple species have been reported,” the agency wrote about the six counties. “Respiratory irritation has been reported in these same areas.”

Red tide is a naturally occurring organism found in Gulf waters. When it accumulates in large amounts, it can kill fish and lead to respiratory irritation in people and animals.

“Southwest Florida is a beautiful, vibrant place to live and we need to take any threat to that standard of living seriously,” Buchanan said. “We need to understand more about the toxins in red tide so we can stop their damaging effects.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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