Emergency Funding to Aid New England Red Tide Response
In late June 2009, tumultuous weather and significant northeast winds along the coast of Maine concentrated toxic Alexandrium cells inshore, resulting in a shutdown of nearly all shellfish beds in coastal Maine in early July due to paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins. On July 10, researchers conducting an ECOHAB GOMTOX mooring recovery and redeployment effort spotted visible patches of Alexandrium off Portsmouth, N.H. (blooms of this species are rarely concentrated enough to be visible). With emergency response funding from NOS and the Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research’s (CSCOR) Harmful Algal Bloom Event Response Program, researchers from WHOI and the University of Maine quickly took action to survey the waters in the Gulf of Maine. The emergency response funding supported sampling, mapping, and forecasting of red tide location and intensity. This effort helped state managers focus their PSP monitoring resources in areas with the greatest opportunity to re-open for harvesting, helping the state minimize economic impacts, while protecting human health. The Food and Drug Administration and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service also needed this critical information to decide whether to close federal waters to shellfish harvesting under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.