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.
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.
Ritzman, J., Brodbeck, A., Brostrom, S., McGrew, S., Dreyer, S., Klinger, T., Moore, S.K., 2018. Economic and sociocultural impacts of fisheries closures in two fishing-dependent communities following the massive 2015 U.S. West Coast harmful algal bloom. Harmful Algae 80, 35-45; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2018.09.002.
Moore, S.K., Cline, M.R., Blair, K., Varney, A., Norman, K., in press. An index of fisheries closures due to harmful algal blooms and a framework for identifying vulnerable fishing communities on the U.S. West Coast. Marine Policy.