Manatee Co. ramps up red tide response, aims to keep dead fish, debris off beaches

Red Tide

MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – Manatee County is working to address red tide and the debris that comes along with it before it reaches public beaches.

County commissioners approved a recommendation Tuesday morning to spend up to $500,000 in tourism development taxes on red tide. Those dollars will fund a new agreement with local shrimp boat captains that will allow them to capture offshore red tide-related debris before it makes its way to county beaches.

County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes says the county has already been practicing early intervention techniques to stay ahead of the red tide. Crews are raking beaches daily, from the southern tip of Anna Maria Island all the way up to the northern end as well as bayside shorelines. The county has also set up fish disposal dumpsters at Manatee Beach and Coquina Beach.

Photo: WFLA

“It is critically important,” said Dr. Scott Hopes. “If people remember back in 2018, it devastated this area and devastated the economy. We are taking it very seriously and we believe we have been in advance of the red tide reaching the shores of Manatee County with these efforts and it shows. It shows in the clarity of our water on the beaches and our clean sand,” he explained.

Starting later this week, the county administrator says drone teams will work with shrimp boat captains to hone in on the problem spots offshore.

“This is the first time we have approached it from really the air, land, and sea to mitigate the effects of red tide both on our communities as well as our economy,” said Dr. Hopes.

So far, crews have dumped more than 680 pounds of biomass at the county’s landfill. That number is expected to climb with these new offshore efforts getting underway.

“If you look at how we have approached it versus how some other counties approached it, we are not going to wait for it to show up on the shores. We are handling it as it finds its way onshore. It is critical to get it out of the water so that it does not create additional food for the red tide to grow on,” said the county administrator.

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