Harmful algal blooms (HABS) are natural events with ecological and economic consequences worldwide. Different nations and regions have adapted to HABS in a variety of ways including distinct strategies designed to prevent, control and or mitigate the negative effects of HAB events. In Florida, Karenia brevis is the algae species that has accounted for nearly all of blooms. This algae species is unique in that the toxins produced during the bloom are a neurotoxin that can kill fish and marine mammals and become airborne and affect the respiratory system of humans. The fact that such blooms, referred to locally as “red tides” since a bloom can discolor the water a reddish-brown color, can affect humans is potentially disastrous to a state like Florida that is heavily dependent on coastal tourism. While a variety of strategies for addressing HABS have been implemented around the world, some strategies are likely to face severe opposition in a state that is heavily dependent on marine tourism. To determine the potential acceptance of alternative red tide strategies in Florida, a mail survey is being sent to 15,000 households in coastal counties. The questionnaire uses a dichotomous choice contingent valuation framework that will allow us to determine the willingness to pay for three strategies: a fertilizer tax to improve general water quality (prevention strategy that is uncertain for red tides), a trust fund donations for a beach conditions reporting service (mitigation strategy designed to change behavior), and a property tax to fund pilot control programs (biological or chemical). In addition, we will be able to explain residents’ overall choice of strategy and the factors that affect both. Results can be used to help summarize public opinion, inform policy makers, and evaluate specific programs intended to address the potentially harmful effects of red tide events in Florida.


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