S T. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Amid the stench of dead fish, protesters marched along Florida’s Tampa Bay on Saturday to ask for state help in dealing with a growing outbreak of damaging red tide.
More than 100 people participated in the event along the St. Petersburg waterfront carrying signs and shouting: “Save our bay, make polluters pay.”
Among other things, the protesters want Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency that would free up more resources for the bay. The St. Petersburg City Council adopted a resolution this week calling for an emergency declaration.
The governor’s office has said such a statement is not necessary and that there is enough money available for the outbreak from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“This is not political,” Aimee Comlee, one of the event organizers, told the crowd. “This is life. This is water and water is life.”
Hundreds of tons of dead marine life have been removed from Tampa Bay in recent weeks due to red tide, a naturally occurring toxic algal bloom in the Gulf of Mexico but made worse by the presence of nutrients such as nitrogen. in water.
Many experts say the blame for the unusually large outbreak in Tampa Bay lies with the former Piney Point phosphate operation in Manatee County. A leak earlier this year at a Piney Point reservoir dumped more than 200 million gallons (757 million liters) of contaminated water into the bay.
The nutrients that fuel the red tide can also enter the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf through other sources.
Red tide outbreaks and reports of dead fish are also being reported in Manatee and Sarasota counties. In addition to fish kills, red tide can cause respiratory problems for some people, especially with existing conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.
The Associated Press