‘Death everywhere’: Tampa Bay residents continue to rally for policy change to protect local waters

Red Tide

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay residents held another red tide rally on Sunday. This one pushing for state legislation to save people and marine life from what they call an environmental disaster.

“This is very long term but the time to act is now,” said Kim Shaw Elliot at Sunday’s event.

Elliot is one of many who marched from City Hall to Curtis Hixon Park to keep Tampa Bay alive and stop phosphate and fertilizer from entering local waters.

Many at the rally said someone needs to be held accountable for the Piney Point spill which they said supercharged red tide to unnatural levels.

“It’s obvious, it’s a 1+1=2 equation. You put that much phosphate in the water and you’re going to have red tide within a month or two like we did,” said Walter Scotten, who grew up in Tampa Bay.

Scotten wants the Department of Environmental Protection to take action. The avid fisherman said for him, the problem is personal.

“It’s like if you have a pet and someone comes in your house and murders or kills your pet. When I go out to where I fished, instead of seeing beauty in nature, all I saw was death. Death everywhere,” Scotten said.

Jackson Tenney is calling for legislators to put an end to phosphate mining altogether.

“I grew up here and I’m watching my state die,” Tenney said. “Most people do not know that nearly a million acres of Florida have been destroyed due to phosphate mining… and that a million acres of Florida will never be the same.”

“This is something I’ve tackled from day one in office. It’s never been political,” Governor Ron DeSantis said about red tide just days before.

DeSantis went on to say the state has prepared for this kind of red tide bloom. During his trip to the Tampa Bay area last week, the governor said he’s not pushing for any new legislation.

“(There were people saying) ‘You’ve got to declare a state of emergency,’ so we asked them why? Well, they didn’t know why. They just wanted to do it for a political talking point. The fact is, we budgeted for this. We have money for this,” he said.

Many in the group rallying Sunday said they want everyone to continue speaking up so lawmakers have no choice but to listen.

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