Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Report
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8635
Title: State of the Climate: A widespread harmful algal bloom in the northeast Pacific
Author/Editor: Vera L. Trainer, Q. Dortch, N. G. Adams, Brian D. Bill, G. Doucette, R. Kudela
Year: 2016

In the late spring and summer 2015, a widespread toxic bloom of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia, stretching from central California to British Columbia, Canada, resulted in significant impacts to coastal resources and marine life. Blooms of Pseudo-nitzschia produce a potent neurotoxin, domoic acid, which can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates, and sometimes fish, leading to illness and death in a variety of seabirds and marine mammals. Human consumption of toxin-contaminated shellfish can result in Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP), which can be life threatening. Detectable concentrations of toxin, although well below levels of concern for human consumption, have been measured in finfish like salmon, tuna, and pollock. The greatest human health risk is from recreationally-harvested shellfish; commercial supplies are closely monitored and have not resulted in human illnesses.


A sidebar in a NOAA "State of the Climate" technical report

Theme: Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Foci: Support collaborative community-based data collection, dissemination, and analysis for fishers, fisheries management, science, marketing, seafood safety, and education
Official Citation:

Trainer, V.L., Dortch, Q., Adams, N.G. Bill, B.D., Doucette, G., Kudela, R.M. 2016. A widespread harmful algal bloom in the northeast Pacific. [in "State of the Climate in 2015"]. Bull. Am. Meterolog. Soc.