UF/IFAS researchers want to hear from marine businesses impacted by red tide

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University of Florida researchers want to hear from marine businesses impacted by the 2018 red tide event that occurred between October of 2017 and January of 2019.

Respondents will have until Sept. 25 to complete the appropriate online questionnaire.

“We will run the surveys statewide with an initial focus of our analyses in Southwest Florida and then a longer, more detailed look at statewide results,” said Christa Court, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics and Florida Sea Grant affiliate faculty member, who is working on the survey with Andrew Ropicki, another UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics and Florida Sea Grant marine economics specialist.

Called the “Assessment of the Impacts of Florida’s 2018 Red Tide Event,” the survey focuses on the state’s marine industries, Court said.

“Though our initial focus is on Southwest Florida, we recognize there could have been impacts to other regions of Florida, as recreational activity of both tourists and local residents moved to non-affected areas,” she said. “Media coverage and the simultaneous occurrence of a blue-green algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee also could have influenced opinions on which parts of the state were impacted.”

Lisa Krimsky, a regional specialized water agent for UF/IFAS Extension and author of this document about red tides, said they happen almost every year, but the most recent was unique in its breadth.

“The 2017-19 bloom was unprecedented in recent history in both duration and geographic impact,” Krimsky said. “The bloom was widely dispersed due to ocean currents and hurricane force winds, reaching the Panhandle and Florida’s southeast coast.”

By now, Court said, you might have survey fatigue – between this survey and efforts to collect information about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the data are quite useful.

“Harmful algal blooms won’t stop just because there is a pandemic, and this information will be really helpful to decision-makers as they consider options for prevention and mitigation of these events,” Court said.

Marine industries were impacted in many ways by the red tide event that happened between November 2017 and January 2019, Court said.

In this particular effort, researchers are interested in hearing from two marine industry sectors:

These surveys are designed to gather data and gain insights on the type of — and scale of — the impacts of the 2018 red tide event for marine recreation businesses and for-hire/charter operations and should take 10-15 minutes to complete, depending on individual business characteristics.

The West Coast Inland Navigation District and the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association have provided funding to researchers to provide quantifiable, detailed data of the overall impacts of this event across a wide variety of economic sectors.

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