Florida and South Korea partner to combat harmful algal blooms

by | Jun 7, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Friday the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and South Korea’s National Institute of Environmental Research to collaborate on managing harmful algal blooms.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Friday that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with South Korea’s National Institute of Environmental Research to enhance cooperation on managing harmful algal blooms.

According to an issued press release provided by the Executive Office of the Governor, the partnership will focus on reducing nutrient loading in water bodies, improving monitoring and risk assessment methodologies, and developing innovative treatment technologies. The MOU also facilitates the exchange of scientific and technical information through data sharing, reports, publications, and presentations.

“Expanding Florida’s capabilities to respond to harmful algal blooms helps us protect our economy and keep our natural resources healthy,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Florida and South Korea have a strong economic partnership, particularly in the technology sector, and through this MOU, both partners will further ongoing research to combat harmful algal blooms like blue-green algae.”

Harmful algal blooms, including red tide caused by Karenia brevis and blue-green algae from cyanobacteria, pose  threats to the state’s economy, public health, and environment. The blooms, driven by nutrient pollution, warmer water temperatures, and hydrologic changes, result in fish kills, beach closures, and respiratory issues in humans, impacting Florida’s tourism and fishing industries.

“Florida’s unique environmental challenges demand bold solutions, and international cooperation is a significant step in that direction,” DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton said. “We remain steadfastly committed to protecting Florida, and I look forward to a productive partnership that will enhance that mission by collaborating with some of South Korea’s finest scientific minds in our fight against harmful algal blooms.”

Upon taking office, DeSantis formed the Blue-Green Algae Task Force and has invested $65 million in a variety of technologies to mitigate the effects and impacts of blooms.

“Through this partnership, we’re not just sharing knowledge; we’re forging a path to resilience against environmental challenges,” said Hanseung Kum, President of the National Institute of Environmental Research in South Korea. “The collaboration between South Korea and Florida highlights our deep commitment to deploying science and innovation in the battle against harmful algal blooms, ensuring healthier ecosystems for our communities.”

Friday’s announcement comes just months after Florida and the United Kingdom MOU to strengthen business and academic ties.


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