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

Principal Investigator

Several types of naturally occurring harmful algal blooms (HABs) exist, including those caused by the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis, commonly known as “red tide” events. Red tide events most often occur in the ocean and nearshore coastal waters, producing dangerous toxins that are detrimental to people, plants, animals, ecosystems, and communities in and around the affected bodies of water. Excess land-based nutrients flowing into estuaries and coastal waters in storm water runoff exacerbate the growth and the duration of red tide events.

Between October 2017 and January 2019, Florida was impacted by a large red tide event that occurred on the Gulf coast and for the first time was observed on the Atlantic coast. Unusually, this red tide event along the Gulf coast also persisted into the cool winter months of 2019. Informed decision-making associated with coastal resource management and HAB mitigation requires the comprehensive assessment of short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts of HABs.

Leveraging resources and information from complementary efforts underway at the University of Florida (UF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), HRI joins a group of UF researchers to comprehensively estimate the short- and long-term socioeconomic impacts of the 2017-2019 Karenia brevis event in Florida. The group will also develop a transferable framework to inform national-scale efforts to quantify the socioeconomic impacts and measure community resiliency to HABs.

To accomplish these objectives, researchers will:

  • Identify the people, assets, and businesses affected by HABs by conducting participatory multi-stakeholder focus groups in Florida communities exposed to the 2017-2019 K. brevis event.
  • Assess the effect of HABs on tourist behavior through a nationally-representative survey targeting individuals who visited or cancelled a trip to Florida during the K. brevis event and through the use of AirBnb rental data to estimate the effects of HABs on the duration and location of visitor stays.
  • Conduct a hedonic analysis of residential coastal property transactions during the most recent and past red tide events to assess implications for property values.
  • Leverage ongoing surveys and data collection conducted by UF and NOAA to assess the economic impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries resulting from red tide.
  • Combine these measures to assess the total economic value of the impact of the 2017-19 red tide event in Florida and to inform future efforts focused on quantifying the socioeconomic impacts of HABs and assessing community resilience to HABs.

HRI will engage with NOAA staff to review oral histories conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Services, identify inputs for community vulnerability indices, and assess fishing community vulnerability as a result of red tide events.