Gov. DeSantis signs bill giving Sarasota’s Mote $18 million to fight red tide
The laboratory will develop technologies that can fight the toxic algae.
SARASOTA — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Thursday that will put Mote Marine Laboratory at the forefront of efforts to combat red tide in Florida.
The bill, which was championed by Senate President Bill Galvano, allocates $18 million over six years for Mote to develop technologies that can fight red tide blooms.
Lawmakers crafted the measure in response to last year’s devastating bloom that killed sea life in Southwest Florida, fouled the air and water and hurt the region’s tourism industry.
“If we don’t do all that we can to maintain our natural resources, you will see our economy suffer,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis and legislative leaders are touting the measure as a major step toward reducing the harmful effects of red tide, even as some environmental advocates argue lawmakers have not done enough to tackle nutrient pollution that can feed the toxic algae blooms.
Red tide blooms start offshore and are naturally occurring. But when the blooms move near shore they can feed on nutrients that leach into the water from sources such as fertilizer runoff, leaky septic tanks and sewage spills.
Senate Bill 1552 — dubbed the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative — does not address the problem of excessive nutrients in coastal waterways. Instead of trying to cut off the algae’s food source, the legislation - which was sponsored by State Sen. Joe Gruters and state Rep. Michael Grant - seeks to fight the blooms through technology.