Please select your home edition
Edition
GJW 2018 728x90

Florida’s red tide impacts more than just fish

by NOAA Fisheries 24 Nov 2018 14:39 UTC
NOAA Scientists and Fishermen at an Ecosystem workshop in the Gulf of Mexico during the Summer of 2018 © IEA / NOAA Fisheries

Massive fish die-offs were just one of many concerns fishermen raised with NOAA scientists during workshops held in the summer of 2018.

Fishermen described how the spread of toxic algae otherwise known as a "Red Tide" event along the west coast of Florida is impacting many parts of their lives including local business. This made it clear the issue was bigger than just fish die-offs and requires a solution that is bigger than just conserving fish populations. An ecosystem-wide approach can provide such a solution.

Red tide events occur when toxic algae (Karenia brevis) populations grow rapidly in the water. While these are naturally occurring events, the 2018 event is worse than usual, leading to massive die-offs of marine species and possible respiratory symptoms in humans.

Typically, the impacts of red tides are incorporated into the decision-making process through stock assessments. Stock assessments can estimate the amount of fish that will die as a result of this red tide event and provide an appropriate and sustainable level of fishing mortality, in light of these events.

However, NOAA scientists' engagement with fishermen brought to light a need for additional ecosystem components to be considered. Fishermen raised concerns of red tide events affecting habitat conditions, commercial and for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture, tourism, protected species, and human health.

NOAA's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) is an approach that can integrate all of these concerns into management decisions. So NOAA scientists are using this approach to better understand the effects of this red tide event and identify strategies to address the issue.

Moving forward, the Gulf of Mexico IEA team, in collaboration with state and federal partners, is developing a response plan for addressing the severe ongoing red tide event on the West Florida Shelf.

The first step of this response plan is to better understand the red tide event. In order to better understand this event a team of scientists just conducted a South Florida Ecosystems research cruise to sample the ongoing red tide on the southwest Florida Shelf. The Cruise was funded by NCCOS and a collaboration with NOAA/AOML, NOAA/SEFSC, State of Florda Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, NOAA/NESDIS, USF, MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and University of Miami. The focus was on quantifying human health and ecosystem impacts from the red tide event.

Near-term priorities are to:

  • document the immediate impacts of the red tide on fish, protected resources, habitat, and fishing communities
  • understand red tide bloom ecology and the successional response of the ecosystem to severe red tide events

Related Articles

Mid-Atlantic boaters: Watch out for whales!
As large whales migrate along the Eastern Seaboard As large whales migrate along the Eastern Seaboard, remember to follow responsible wildlife viewing guidelines to keep everyone--whales and people-- safe! Posted on 9 Feb
Reminder: Seals need space
This is a good time to remind everyone of seal watching guidelines and information Gray seals pup this time of year in New England, with pupping season extending through March. Then, in May, harbor seal pupping season begins. Posted on 2 Feb
Watch out for whales south of Nantucket
Voluntary Vessel Speed Restriction Zone in effect South of Nantucket to protect right whales The voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) established south of Nantucket on January 15 has been extended to protect an aggregation of 20 right whales sighted in this area on January 27. Posted on 1 Feb
Announcing DSCRT Program 2018 report to Congress
New report highlights the exciting discoveries of never-before-seen deep-sea coral habitats This new report highlights the exciting discoveries of never-before-seen deep-sea coral habitats and new species found during the past two years (fiscal years 2016 and 2017), ranging from the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Posted on 1 Feb
Ten ways we can help monk seals
Veterinarian & field teams work to rescue seal pups, treat injuries, and sometimes even remove eels! Hawaiian monk seals often find themselves in difficult situations, and our staff works hard to prevent and reduce threats to this highly-endangered species. Posted on 17 Dec 2018
How NOAA supports post-storm coral restoration
The future of coral reefs looks bleaker than ever before With rising temperatures comes an increase in mass coral bleaching events, infectious disease outbreaks, and the process known as ocean acidification. Posted on 16 Dec 2018
Learn about deep sea corals through story maps
Visit a series of story maps exploring deep-sea coral Most people are surprised to learn that deep-sea corals exist at all, let alone that they live in waters of every region of the United States. Deep-sea corals appear in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and depth ranges. Posted on 14 Dec 2018
Watch out for whales around Cape Cod
New voluntary vessel speed restriction zone established around Cape Cod Bay to protect right whales A voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) has been established around Cape Cod Bay to protect an aggregation of six right whales sighted in this area. Posted on 13 Dec 2018
Large Whale Entanglements National Report
A national report on large whale entanglements confirmed in the United States in 2017 A national report on large whale entanglements confirmed in the United States in 2017. Seventy-Six large whale entanglements were confirmed nationally in 2017, slightly above the annual average. Posted on 10 Dec 2018
Wrapping up marine debris mission at Midway
Our team of five cleans up more than 25,000 pounds of debris in 10 days on Midway Atoll The five of us had amazing weather for the rest of the mission—little to no rain or wind, which meant it was hot while we cleaned up the beaches. Luckily for us, the calm and cool waters were always welcoming Posted on 2 Dec 2018
Zhik 2018 Yacht 728x90 BOTTOMMarine Resources BOTTOM