Red tide crisis: Group rallies in St. Pete to call for action from state, local officials

Red Tide

SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Red tide is invading the shore in Pinellas County.

In the past week, crews have cleared away more than 600 tons of dead fish, but their work is far from over.

A group rallied in St. Petersburg on Saturday, demanding accountability from elected officials.

“We’re sick of this,” one participant said. “We’re sick of the inaction.”

The Suncoast Surfrider Foundation organized the rally. The group wants better efforts for cleaning up the water, but also policy change.

“It’s absolutely devastating,” Chairman Thomas Paterek said. “The ocean is a place that’s really close to my heart. It’s where I find peace and serenity. And when I go out there now, all I see is death.”

He said it was cries from the community that prompted Saturday morning’s rally. Participants discussed how to solve the issue but ultimately said leaders on the state level need to step up.

They’re calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare red tide an environmental disaster.

“We’re calling for an immediate cleanup and then, more long-term, we need to really think about how to fertilizers are being used in the local area,” Paterek said.

The group wants a state of emergency declared in Tampa Bay, polluters to pay, a plan created for the closure of Piney Point, recommendations mandated from local experts, to stop phosphate mining in the state, Florida’s infrastructure updated and to set statewide clean energy transition targets.

“We’re not going to feel OK about what’s happening until laws are enacted, until policies are changed, until we start talking about it and be about it.”

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