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Toxins Detection Workshop Promotes International Trade of Shellfish

NCCOS scientist Tina Mikulski recently led a workshop in Muscat, Oman, on the detection of paralytic shellfish toxins—which can accumulate in shellfish, causing human illness and death. Shellfish must be screened for these toxins (produced by harmful algae in the genus Alexandrium) prior to sale and consumption.

The workshop was designed through a formal agreement between NOAA’s National Ocean Service and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and moved forward with the support of the United Nations and the IAEA.


Tina Mikulski provides technical training to scientists gathered in Muscat, Oman. Credit: Fran VanDolah, NOAA.

High levels of paralytic shellfish toxins have recently resulted in trade barriers for the export of shellfish from the United States and other countries. To date, the NOAA–IAEA collaboration has resulted in 10 training workshops, including 27 countries and production of a shellfish toxins detection manual. The manual provides an internationally approved method for detecting shellfish toxins, which can reduce barriers to the international trade of shellfish by improving confidence in seafood safety.

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