Researchers from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) are laying the groundwork to fill gaps in coverage for screening shellfish collected by harvesters in rural Alaska. Using toxin signatures developed by a scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, NCCOS scientists are working to develop a test kit that can save time and money for Alaskans.
Shellfish that ingest blooms of harmful algae are a constant danger to the local consumers and can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. Increasing water temperatures could exacerbate this problem by providing algae with a longer growing season.
Currently the state only tests commercial beds, but that is only a small fraction of shellfish consumed by residents.