SARASOTA, Fla. — Today, Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried visited Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota to view red tide conditions on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Commissioner Fried was joined by State Representative Margaret Good (HD-72), Mote Marine Laboratory President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby, UF/IFAS Sarasota Extension Director Lee Hayes Byron, and New College of Florida Professor and Marine Policy Institute Immediate Past Director Dr. Frank Alcock.
High concentrations of red tide have been found in Gulf Coast waters this week, including the Sarasota area. Red tide is a harmful algal bloom that can cause respiratory issues in people, especially those with asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses, as well as widespread deaths of marine life.
“Water is the lifeblood of our state, and critical to our environment, our economy, and our very lives,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Red tide not only threatens our shores and tourism economy, it puts public health and ecosystems at risk. From water legislation, to funding for water conservation technology on farms, to updating our farming practices to improve water quality, we must do all we can to protect the water upon which we all rely.”
“Florida continues to face serious water quality issues, as we well know in Southwest Florida,” said State Representative Margaret Good. “We must take substantive action at every level of governance to improve water quality, and must seek out innovative solutions to the issue. I’m grateful for Commissioner Fried’s focus on clean water, and appreciate her visiting our community to learn about the issues we face.
Commissioner Fried has made improving Florida’s water quality one of her top priorities. After appointing a new Director of Agricultural Water Policy in May, Fried is rewriting agricultural best management practices not updated since the mid-2000s, requesting lawmakers grant her Department $30 million in cost-share funding to help farmers acquire the latest water conservation technology, and has dedicated nearly $1 million in water infrastructure improvements in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.
–Florida Department of Agriculture