It's known as ‘The ABC Plan’. Can it solve red tide?
With many fishermen and shellfish farmers losing their jobs because of Florida red tide, Barry Hurt of Little Gasparilla Island in Charlotte County decided to do something about it.
Hurt, 69, a former entrepreneur who became a clam farmer 13 years ago, proposed restoring native algae-consuming shellfish to filter the water along the state’s southwest coast.
This is what the red tide bacteria look like under a microscope. (Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Red tide – the toxic algae scientifically known as Karenia brevis – continues to destroy marine life, restaurants and the livelihood of some South Florida communities.
Hurt’s idea is known as A Billion Clams for a Healthier Charlotte Harbor, or ABC plan for short. It has the support of a number of scientists and other local growers along the harbor, which is considered among the best spots to sail in Florida.
According to a website created to promote it,
clamrestoration.com, the ABC plan aims to use local clam farmers to restore depleted native clam resources. It also would create permanent clam beds protected from commercial and recreational harvest. The beds would mature and become self-recruiting, leading to an increase in native populations over time, the site states.
Hurt and a team of science advisers would like to begin enacting the plan within the next six months. However, they still must secure what Hurt said would be the funding – between $1.5 million to $2 million per year for 10 years – needed just to replace depleted clam populations.