Despite pleas from the city of St. Petersburg, environmentalists and activists, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down Wednesday and again refused to declare a state of emergency for Tampa Bay’s ongoing red tide.
Why it matters: DeSantis said his office is committed to working with the community to fight the red tide, but argued that a state of emergency would hurt businesses by sending the message that “Florida has problems.”
He pointed to programs he already set up and funded to attack red tide, including reactivating the Red Tide Task Force and setting aside funds specifically for red tide in the state’s annual budget.
The bacteria that makes up red tide, Karenia brevis, has already killed more than 613 tons of marine life and fish in and around Tampa as of last week, according to local officials.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday it had collected 132 samples from the region and found high concentrations of the bacteria in the water in Pinellas and Hillsbourgh counties.
Fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were reported in Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties over the past week, according to the commission, as well as respiratory irritation in many of the same counties.
Tampa’s NBC News affiliate reports:
Many families living in the Shore Acres area of St. Petersburg are having a difficult time with red tide. Whether they live on or off the water, residents say there is no escape from the rotting odor connected to the bloom.
The impact is wide-reaching. Not only to the people who live in homes on the water, but to families at parks where children play as well. And the smell continues seeping into nearby neighborhoods.
Chris Tidwell and his son, 7-year-old Chris Jr., went to Crisp Park on Thursday to escape their house on the water. They were trying to enjoy their day but were having a tough time. They can’t escape the horrid smell of rotting fish wherever they go.
DeSantis says “things are well” in Pinellas. Maybe he needs a COVID test because if you can’t smell the rotting fish and red tide burn something’s wrong with your senses. We need an emergency declaration and aid, not happy talk, Governor. https://t.co/TLpj6OmxNf
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) July 21, 2021
The politicization of the governor’s response to red tide is truly sickening. My team and I are focused on fixing the mess that was sent our way. When crisis comes, partisanship must go. We should always come together in times like this. https://t.co/zOd4SH5s3n
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) July 21, 2021
Red tide is affecting most of Tampa Bay’s gorgeous beaches, littering them with dead sea life and causing a terrible smell. It can also affect your health:https://t.co/SqvghDC9zu
— thuylanwtsp (@ThuyLanWTSP) July 14, 2021
“We are asking the governor, please … we need your help,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. Instead, he got a rebuke from DeSantis. https://t.co/mGceyAqaCU
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) July 15, 2021