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NCCOS Research Project

Assessment of the Short- and Long-Term Socioeconomic Impacts of Florida’s 2017-2019 Red Tide Event

Primary Contact(s): marykate.rogener@noaa.gov
This project began in March 2020 and will end in August 2022

This project will comprehensively quantify and qualify the short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts of the 2017-2019 Karenia brevis event in Florida. It will also develop a transferable framework to inform national-scale efforts to quantify the socioeconomic impacts and measure community resiliency to harmful algal blooms.

Why We Care
Several red tide events have occurred across Florida’s coastline over the last 15 years including the Gulf Coast (2005), in Choctawhatchee Bay (2006), and along the Northeast coast (2007). Most recently in between October 2017 and January 2019, Florida was impacted by a large red tide event that started on the Gulf coast and also impacted the Atlantic coast of Florida in 2018. Unusually, this red tide event persisted into the cool winter months in 2019 along the Gulf coast.

Red tide events can cause respiratory distress and skin irritation in humans and marine animals, contaminate shellfish, cause fish and other marine animal kills, create dead zones in the water, and reduce economic activity associated with marine industries and recreational users. The ecological and environmental causes and impacts of red tide events are well-studied. However, research has been limited on the socioeconomic impacts of these events.

Continued population growth and coastal development increases the likelihood and scope of the negative economic effects resulting from red tide events. Several discussions are underway at the local, state, and federal levels on how best to mitigate and/or prevent harmful algal blooms (HABs) or the impacts of HABs. Accurate and comprehensive estimates of the socioeconomic impacts of these events will help decision-makers assess the usefulness and efficiency of different policy options.

What We Are Doing
This project will comprehensively quantify and qualify the short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts of the 2017-2019 K. brevis event in Florida and will develop a transferable framework to inform national-scale efforts to quantify the socioeconomic impacts of and measure community vulnerability and resiliency to HABs. To accomplish this overall goal, this research will complete the following scientific objectives under the topic areas of 1) vulnerability and community perceptions, 2) socioeconomic impacts, and 3) communications and outreach:

1. Vulnerability and Community Perceptions
• Quantify and qualify the people, assets, and businesses that are potentially affected by red tide events in Florida.
• Conduct multi-stakeholder focus groups in Florida communities exposed to the 2017-2019 K. brevis event to identify themes regarding stakeholder perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge of HABs, as well as regulatory options surrounding the issue.
• Identify characteristics of resilience that could lead to a HAB resilience assessment instrument.

2. Socioeconomic Impacts
• Quantitative assessment of the total economic value of the socio-economic impacts.
• Assess the broader economic impacts, namely the indirect and induced impacts, of measured, applicable changes in direct economic activity.
• Qualitative assessment of additional socio-economic impacts that are not readily measurable or quantifiable.

3. Communications and Outreach
• Develop a guide for policymakers the consideration of socioeconomic impacts of HABs in the decision-making process and the pitfalls associated with estimating these impacts.
• Develop a guide for practitioners for communicating best practices associated with estimating the socioeconomic impacts of HABs.

Dr. Crista Court of the University of Florida leads this project. Co-investigators are Drs. Xiang Bi (University of Florida), Jin-won Kim (University of Florida), Angela Lindsey (University of Florida), Stephen Morgan (University of Florida), Andrew Ropicki (University of Florida), Ricky Telg (University of Florida), and David Yoskowitz (Texas A&M University). The project is funded through the NCCOS, GCOOS Florida Socioeconomic Award.

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NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

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