The recent bloom of toxic cyanobacteria (often referred to in the media as an “algae” bloom) in Florida’s Lee, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties has DEMA expressing concern over the negative impact this bloom will have on the recreational diving businesses in these counties, as well as the reputation of Florida as a premier recreational diving location. In response to this situation, DEMA has submitted a letter to the Governor of Florida expressing these concerns and asking for additional action to be taken that will help mitigate future problems.
On June 29, an Executive Order declared the presence of this bloom to be an emergency situation in Martin and St. Lucie counties, and subsequently extended the emergency to cover Lee and Palm Beach Counties. Although it’s difficult to measure the direct impact the cyanobacteria bloom will have on residents participating in diving, DEMA is concerned the bloom could have a direct impact on the local dive industry economy in aspects of the number of diving travelers, hotel occupancy, and long-term consequences such as the loss of Florida’s reputation as a premier US diving destination.
DEMA’s letter to the Governor of Florida asks that direct and decisive action be taken to address the current situation, and future problems by continuing to work with the federal government on the problem of water storage and discharge from Lake Okeechobee, as well as work to reduce the effects of pollution that includes sewage runoff and discharges from the phosphate mining industry and agriculture, all of which appear to contribute to this year’s need for emergency action.DEMA stressed how Florida’s local recreational diving industry, hotels, restaurants, marinas and other businesses associated with diving activities are all dependent on the availability of quality diving and snorkeling sites.