Across the U.S., the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries are estimated to suffer millions of dollars in economic losses from harmful algal blooms — losses played out in communities from California to New England, and Ohio to Florida. But the true economic losses caused by toxic algae blooms are unknown.
The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), a regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), and NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) are funding two new studies, totaling $556K, designed to uncover the full costs of the 2017-2019 Florida red tide event across numerous sectors — from tourism and seafood to industries where impacts are less visible, such as healthcare and construction.
Florida “red tide” is caused by the toxin-producing harmful algal species Karina brevis, and occurs almost annually along portions of the state’s Gulf Coast. These events can cause gastrointestinal distress, respiratory illness, and eye irritation in humans; disrupt tourism and valuable fisheries; kill marine life; and damage the ecosystem. Just one harmful algal bloom event can impose millions of dollars in losses upon local coastal communities, rivaling the economic impact of hurricanes in the state of Florida.
These two new projects will evaluate the sociological and economic impacts of this extensive 2017-2019 red tide event and develop a framework to inform future socioeconomic assessments of HAB events.
- The University of Central Florida will receive $277K for a two year project that will examine the economic impacts of K. brevis events across 80 different sectors, based on varied bloom occurrence and intensity.
- The University of Florida will receive $279K for a two year project that will develop a transferable framework to help inform national-scale efforts focused on identifying the socioeconomic impacts of harmful algal blooms.
The potential findings of these projects could have significant, long-ranging consequences and benefits around the country. The ongoing severity of HABs experienced across the United States, as well as the increasing attention, demonstrate the need to conduct this type of research.
To view full abstracts for all 2019 HAB competitive research awards from NCCOS, click here.