Sarasota may be months removed from the worst effects of a red tide bloom that wreaked havoc on coastal areas earlier this year, but many residents remain passionate about addressing issues associated with the marine phenomenon.
That’s why dozens of activists gathered near U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue this morning, holding signs demanding improved water quality and drawing supportive honks from passing motorists.
The demonstration was organized by the group Hands Along the Water, one of five events held today along the Gulf Coast from Manatee County to Collier County. The group formed in August in hopes of affecting policy changes to mitigate the effects of red tide. Adrienne Miceli Trask, the group’s vice president, said the focus has since expanded.
“Here we are four months later, and the scope of the problem goes well beyond our original red tide awareness,” Trask said in a statement. “We need comprehensive water policy reform, and we need it now.”
Members of Hands Along the Water have appeared at county and city meetings, calling on commissioners to implement changes such as a year-long ban on fertilizer with nitrogen and phosphorous. Although both city and county officials have signaled some interest in exploring the options available for local governments, activists expressed frustration more action hasn't been taken.
Joe Bruno, a member of Hands Along the Water, said public awareness efforts were crucial for making sure red tide remains a front-of-mind issue for both residents and officials.
“You gotta dig deep and you gotta do events like this,” Bruno said.