Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Ocean Observing System recently cosponsored a two-day workshop to develop an action plan for harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring, event response, outreach, and research in Alaska.
NCCOS staff opened the workshop by providing a national perspective on HABs that set the stage for discussions of existing activities and identified additional needs for monitoring, research, response, and communication. NCCOS scientists also presented research updates on: (1) the development of the paralytic shellfish poisoning risk assessment tool, (2) the development of a rapid saxitoxin field detection kit funded by the North Pacific Research Board, and (3) data acquired jointly with AOOS.
The first day engaged a broad audience, including resource managers, shellfish growers, researchers, and anyone affected or interested in HABs and included presentations to provide an overview and summary of HAB-related activities around Alaska, as well as breakout groups to develop an action plan related to monitoring and event response. The second day was focused on a target audience interested in developing an action plan for HAB research, data sharing, outreach, and education.
There was broad agreement on the need to continue to improve state-wide coordination on HAB monitoring and event response. Specific issues of concern to NCCOS included: building on lessons learned from regional pytoplankton monitoring efforts, especially from current programs in Kachemak Bay and Southeast Alaska; improving the sharing of toxin testing results between federal, state and tribal labs; possibly expanding on the SoundToxins website; improving access to toxin testing capabilities especially for remote communities; and improving an understanding of how HABs impact higher trophic levels including marine mammal and seabird mortality events.