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New Eco-Forecast Systems to Aid Pacific Northwest Seafood Industry

Published on: 10/20/2016
Research Area(s): Other Topics
Primary Contact(s): marc.suddleson@noaa.gov

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) along the coasts of Washington and Oregon cause millions of dollars in economic losses due to HAB-toxin contaminated shellfish. On October 3, the office of Washington Governor Jay Inslee gathered the Washington Shellfish Initiative Advisory Group for a public meeting in Aberdeen, Washington. This twice-annual meeting provides a forum for members to learn about developments and challenges in the advancement of the Washington Shellfish Initiative (WSI) and allow engagement and feedback from partners.

Oyster harvesting in Willapa Bay. Credit: Washington Dept. of Ecology

Oyster harvesting in Willapa Bay. Credit: Washington State Department of Ecology.

Marc Suddleson and Dr. Vera Trainer, representatives from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) respectively, worked with the Governor's Shellfish Policy Advisor to inform the advisory group about efforts to build regional capacity for HAB monitoring and forecasting that will benefit the shellfish farming industry and ensure continued commercial and recreational access to wild shellfish stocks. This new research is sponsored by NCCOS.

Dr. Trainer shared details on the project, demonstrating how a new HAB forecast system will provide Washington managers an early warning of when and where blooms of toxic HAB species Pseudo-nitzschia will impact recreational razor clam digs or disrupt Dungeness crab fisheries. Dr. Trainer also explained an ongoing HAB project to help the Washington Department of Health better monitor for HAB toxins associated with Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning, which afflicts humans that consume contaminated shellfish.

Razor clam harvesting. Credit: Washington Dept. of Ecology

Razor clam harvesting. Credit: Washington State Department of Ecology

NOAA and Washington State rely on the WSI to identify and tackle shellfish research and management priorities, including HABs, and promote efforts to restore, and expand Washington's shellfish resources. The WSI recognizes the critical role that shellfish play in the health of both Washington's economy and environment.

For more information, contact Marc.Suddleson@noaa.gov

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