Fighting red tide with nature

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
Reintroducing clams to Southwest Florida estuaries could help mitigate the effects of red tide. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Red tide is a part of living on the Gulf coast.

While it’s clearing up in Southwest Florida, research is underway to lessen its impact in the future.

After looking at the history and the issue, Florida TaxWatch found the state should consider reintroducing southern hard clams to Southwest Florida estuaries.

“This is just one important tool in the toolkit that should be used. And it could also further, you know, enhance areas like the Tampa Bay region, and help coastal restoration activities,” Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

FGCU Water School’s James Douglass said clams and oysters can help cut down the algae levels in the water.

“If they’re healthy, should be able to do that filtering and we need to take care of our oysters and clams, our natural oysters and clams to make sure they can do their job,” Douglass said.

By using the filter feeders to absorb pollutants and bacteria.

There is a direct connection between a high-quality environment, a healthy environment, and a sustainable and long-term healthy economy, Calabro said.

“You cannot have one for long without the other,” Calabro said.

Bob Nave, senior vice president of research at Florida TaxWatch, said the group noticed some direct economic costs due to red tide.

“The cost that for example, the local governments having to remove tons of dead fish from the beaches as a direct cost and then you look further downstream at some of the indirect costs,” Nave said.

The group has a couple of ideas on how to reintroduce clams. It points to leasing a submerged area to place while also working with developers to balance construction and environmental concerns.

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