ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Emphasizing a need for “economic vitality,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday declined calls to declare a state of emergency from the effects of red tide, which has killed hundreds of tons of fish and prompted heightened concern among counties along Florida’s western Gulf Coast.
What You Need To Know
- Florida Gov. DeSantis declines calls to declare state of emergency from red tide
- He's joined by numerous public officials, businesses who hail 'joint effort' on problem
- DeSantis: 'It would have been very irresponsible' to have declared state of emergency
“A state of emergency does not help our economic vitality at all,” DeSantis said. “The only way that would be helpful is if we had no money” to combat red tide and hadn’t allocated funding to counties and municipalities.
“The fact is, we budgeted money for this. We have money for this.”
DeSantis made his comments during a news conference at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
The news conference featured multiple members of state agencies, nonprofit organizations and local governments and businesses who hailed one another, especially the governor, and efforts to fight red tide and clean up dead fish that have been washing up on shores throughout the region.
“This is the best cohesive joint effort I’ve ever seen,” said Robin Miller, president of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
She and the governor suggested fallout from a state of emergency on the region’s tourism and economy.
“A state of emergency does not help our economic vitality at all,” she said.
DeSantis dismissed suggestions that he was politicizing the problem.
“In fact, the economy’s open here and people should be coming” to the region, he said. “It would have been very irresponsible to” have declared a state of emergency.
DeSantis said Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection “is able to commit” $2.1 million to clean up coasts in Pinellas County, including St. Petersburg,” and “has resources to provide additional assistance.”
DeSantis’ news conference came as scores of dead fish continue to wash up along shorelines in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Manatee counties — prompting the St. Petersburg City Council to ask DeSantis in recent days to declare a state of emergency.
The most recent red tide outbreak has promoted scientists to seek links to algae blooms and the pumping wastewater into Tampa from the site of an old fertilizer plant two months ago.
Scientists link red tide to algae blooms from runoff of sewage and fertilizer into waterways, sometimes from significant weather events. DeSantis said Wednesday that Hurricane Elsa appeared to have fueled the current onset of red tide.
Residents along Florida’s western Gulf coast complain of overwhelming odor and effects on businesses from the phenomenon.
Scientists also have linked red tide to deaths of manatees in Tampa Bay and Central Florida.
DeSantis said Wednesday that he toured the region’s coastal areas and, referring to Tampa Bay, that he was “pleased to hear from everyone that the Bay looks a lot better than it did.”