Effective marine research requires collaboration among a myriad of disciplines ranging from sample collection, mathematical modeling and laboratory analyses. These ranges of skills and abilities are not found within a single agency, therefore partnering with others becomes a necessity. The HAB team has partnered itself with not only state agencies but also with various interested constituency groups to help meet these needs. Partnerships foster trust and acceptance among risk managers when they can directly observe the benefits of new sampling and surveillance technologies.
The Partnership for Enhanced Monitoring and Emergency Response to Harmful Algal Blooms and Vibrio in Puget Sound (SoundToxins) is a regional forum for collaboration and cooperation amongst federal, state and local agencies, coastal tribes, marine resource-based businesses, public interest groups, and academic institutions to manage the prediction of and response to HAB and Vibrio species in Puget Sound using a practical blend of emerging and proven technologies.
The project objectives are to:
The goal of SoundToxins is to provide sufficient warning of HAB and Vibrio events to enable early or selective harvesting of shellfish, thereby minimizing risks to both human and fish health and reducing economic loss to Puget Sound fisheries. This cooperative effort is based upon the successful Olympic Region Harmful Algal Bloom (ORHAB) partnership model of cooperation, and will play a decisive role in achieving the overall project objective: to establish a cost-effective monitoring program that will be led by state managers, tribes, fish and shellfish farmers at the end of five years. Site locations, with collaborators, including tribal partners, and historical HABs and Vibrio outbreaks indicated, can be found at the SoundToxins website.
Some species of Pseudo-nitzschia produce the neurotoxin, domoic acid that accumulates in shellfish and can cause a syndrome called Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) in humans. Humans that consume contaminated shellfish become severely ill and can die, so it is necessary to close affected shellfish beds to protect human health. Along the Washington coast, razor clams and Dungeness crabs are particularly likely to accumulate the toxin. A Pacific Northwest HAB bulletin has been developed and is being tested for the Washington Pacific coast based on an understanding of HAB dynamics, primarily focused on Pseudo-nitzschia.
The bulletin builds upon the Olympic Harmful Algal Bloom (ORHAB) monitoring by creating a twice monthly web-based bulletin for the early warning of Washington coast HAB events. A total of 6 bulletins are provided each summer to managers from the Washington State Department of Health, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Quinault Tribe, as well as other collaborators from Washington, Oregon and across the Nation. This accurate and timely information on HABs are provided using local expertise to analyze real-time biological and physical data. As better algorithms are developed, we envision that other types of real-time data (for example, mooring data from several sites off the coast that are interfaced by satellite) could be incorporated into the bulletin in the future to improve the accuracy and comprehensive nature of the forecast.
This bulletin was developed with more than 10 years of funding from the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB), the NOAA Monitoring and Event Response Programs (MERHAB), the NSF ECOHAB, the NOAA Oceans and Human Health Initiative, and the CDC.
The Olympic Peninsula coast of Washington state has an abundance of shellfish for both recreational and subsistence fishers. It is relatively far from urban centers and is noted for its pristine beauty, making it desirable for recreational shellfishing. The remoteness of this area made sampling infrequent and sparse, making traditional risk management programs for marine biotoxins difficult. These limitations required that large sections of the area be closed when toxins were discovered in shellfish in order to ensure public safety. Closures were long-lasting and extensive, creating tremendous financial impacts on recreational/tourist businesses. Because of these difficulties, residents of the area asked for improved protection from marine biotoxins. It became clear that in order to better manage these outbreaks there was a need for improved sampling and surveillance techniques based on a better understanding of the underlying dynamics of HAB events.
Concerned residents of the area formed a citizen's committee to see if funding could be obtained to create a research program for the improvement of monitoring of marine toxins in the Olympic region. The ORHAB Partnership was formed in June 1999 by local residents and coastal communities in response to seemingly random closures of the shellfisheries due to outbreaks of marine biotoxins (Paralytic Shellfish Poison and domoic acid) in razor clams. These efforts were rewarded in the summer of 2000 when NOAA funded a pilot program to study new monitoring and surveillance techniques to improve the risk management of marine biotoxins.
The ORHAB project is bringing knowledge to the local communities on the Olympic peninsula of the Washington State coast, empowering the tribes and state managers to make scientifically-based decisions about managing and mitigating harmful algal bloom (HAB) impacts on coastal fishery resources.