Sen. Nelson hears red tide concerns from Pinellas business owners

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Owners of small businesses, hurt most by the effects of red tide, had their chance to voice concerns to Washington, D.C. Wednesday. 

Business leaders from Pinellas County sat down with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and representatives Charlie Crist and Kathy Castor for a roundtable discussion about where they go from here and what's being done for next time.

Local scientists were also at the table, pushing for more funding to understand and prevent the problem that is killing wildlife and tourism. 

Anne Lopez, owner of Nekton’s Surf Shop on Indian Rocks Beach says when the fish are floating in the water her small business is sinking.

"Who wants to skim over dead fish?” Lopez asked. “We’ve noticed a huge decrease especially in our rental business.”

Sen. Nelson touted a bipartisan effort to add more wetlands in Florida, which acts as a filter, removing nutrients from pollutants that can make red tide worse.

Local scientists from at least two institutions pushed for more wetlands, saying at least 100,000 more acres need to be added.

Lopez says she understands that Senator Nelson is up for re-election in less than three weeks and the debate over how to stop and prevent red tide has been heavily politicized.

“Politicians are politicking,” Lopez said. “Three weeks before an election, any issue is going to be politicized.”

Lopez says she’s confident the local voices will be heard and is hoping for more funding to stop red tide and clean up its mess.