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Florida TaxWatch Releases Report Analyzing Use of Southern Hard Clams to Mitigate Red Tide

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released Red Tide Mitigation Using Southern Hard Clams, a report analyzing the reintroduction of southern hard clam beds as an innovative and environmentally sustainable approach to mitigating the harmful impacts of red tides along the western Gulf Coast of Florida. 

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “In addition to taking a devastating toll on the environment, red tide has significant and widespread economic consequences. Direct impacts of the paralyzing neurotoxin produced by the blooms include the cost of healthcare for exposed individuals and expenses associated with marine mammal rescues and removals. Crews in Pinellas County alone, for example, have collected more than 500 tons of dead and rotting marine life since cleanup efforts began back in early July. Moreover, the indirect effects of red tide are often most prevalent at the local level, measured by the value of forgone tourism and recreation opportunities for visitors, as well as lost wages for residents. At Florida TaxWatch, we strongly believe leaders and decision-makers in critical areas like the Tampa Bay region must begin to invest in coastal restoration activities – and the reintroduction of southern hard clam beds, in particular – to reduce the occurrence, duration, and severity of future blooms.” 

A century ago, the southwest coast of Florida supported one of the largest clam beds in the United States. However, years of dredging and harvesting virtually eradicated these bivalve shellfish, efficient filter feeders capable of absorbing pollutants, viruses, and bacteria in up to five gallons of seawater daily, which in turn, promotes the growth of sea grasses and supports greater diversity among marine life. 

The Chiles Group Owner and President Ed Chiles said, “We are pleased to see that a highly respected nonpartisan research institute that has a 42-year history as a watchdog for our residents’ hard-earned tax dollars has come out in support of seagrass and bivalves aquaculture and restoration as a biological mitigation strategy to clean coastal waters and promote coastal resiliency. We must move forward now in a major way to address water quality issues in our state. The more jobs we create by restoring seagrass where appropriate in our nearshore waters and promoting bivalve aquaculture for restoration, as well as commercial seafood production, the more water we clean, and the more productive our coastal estuaries will be. Clean, productive coastal waters and estuaries are the underpinning of the Florida economy and lifestyle.” 

For more information and to read the full report, please click here

 

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