Seaweed removal slow, hampered by laws

Manatee County Parks and Recreation Director Cindy Turner told members of the Manatee County Tourism Development Council at their Aug. 20 meeting that she’s never seen any buildup of seaweed on Anna Maria Island like the current onslaught.

“We’re doing everything we can to remove it, but remember, we have to get state permits, can’t rake the turtle nesting areas and can only rake from the mean high-water line,” she said.

Turner said she’s received a multitude of complaints about the seaweed, but many people don’t understand the difficulty in raking private property. She said crews are doing their best under difficult conditions and some are working around the clock to clear seaweed.

Manatee County Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker called it a natural occurring phenomenon. It doesn’t happen often, and the seaweed is not dangerous to people, but for the county to remove the seaweed took some special Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits, approval of Anna Maria Island Turtlewatch director Suzi Fox, and help from some private property owners.

Hunsicker said the seaweed situation on the Atlantic coast is even worse.

“They are having to dig through parking lots of seaweed to get a path to the beach,” he said.

The cleanup effort on Anna Maria Island will continue where permitted, Turner said, but there is no time frame for when the seaweed will recede.

“It’s always out there in the Gulf of Mexico and, every once in awhile, Mother Nature decides to push it ashore,” Hunsicker said.

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