Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Socioeconomic impacts of harmful algal blooms

The human dimensions of harmful algal blooms (HABs) are becoming more apparent as they increase in frequency, magnitude and geographic scope. This includes human illness and mortality associated with consuming seafood contaminated with HAB toxins as well as economic losses associated with lost fisheries landings and tourism revenue, food insecurity from loss of subsistence harvest activities, disruption of cultural practices, and loss of community identity and social interactions tied to coastal resource use.

Preparing coastal communities for emerging and growing hazardous HAB events is key to reducing their impacts. NOAA researchers are working to document and understand the social, cultural and economic impacts experienced by coastal communities to identify ways to build resilience to future HAB events so that communities can maintain their quality of life, valued customs, and economic industries.


The title of the story map overlays a panel of four photos that depict subjects affected by harmful algal blooms. A Dungeness crab walks along the ocean floor. Scallop fishermen shuck scallops and Dungeness
crabbers move crab pots on the decks of their respective boats. Recreational clam diggers search for clams on a beach.
View this story map to learn more about
how HABs impact our economy.

Accessible version of the story map.

Personal accounts of a massive toxic bloom

In 2015, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia struck the West Coast. The bloom produced record-breaking levels of the toxin domoic acid, shutting down the lucrative Dungeness crab and popular razor clam fisheries for many weeks. This generated an economic shock for coastal communities.

Click the videos to hear first-hand accounts


Andrew Evanow, Commercial Fisherman Andrew Evanow
Commercial Fisherman
Bohn Wylet, Hardware Store Employee Bohn Wylet
Hardware Store Employee
Dan Ayres, Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres
Shellfish Manager


Janie Clark, Accountant Janie Clark
Accountant
Mark Hadsell, Recreational Clammer Mark Hadsell
Recreational Clammer
Tania Miller, Restaurant Manager Tania Miller
Restaurant Manager

Learning from the past

Click the video to learn about past impacts and how they can inform future actions


Harmful Algal Blooms - Human Impacts Overivew Massive bloom hits U.S. West Coast

Project lead

Stephanie Moore

Project funding

The JPB Foundation

Publications