Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act

The Issue

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxic events (severe oxygen depletion) are some of the most scientifically complex and economically damaging coastal issues challenging our ability to safeguard the health of our nation’s coastal ecosystems. Almost every state in the U.S. now experiences some kind of HAB event and the number of hypoxic water bodies in the U.S. has increased 30 fold since the 1960s with over 300 coastal systems now impacted.A 2006 study shows that the economic impacts from a subset of HAB events in U.S. marine waters averaged to be $82 million/year (2005 dollars). However, just one major HAB event can cost local coastal economies tens of millions of dollars, indicating that the nationwide economic impact of HABs is likely much larger.

Legislative History

In 1998, Congress recognized the severity of these threats and authorized the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA 1998; embedded in Public Law 105-383). The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2004 (HABHRCA 2004, Public Law 108–456) and 2014 (HABHRCA 2014, Public Law 113–124) reaffirmed and expanded the mandate for NOAA to advance the scientific understanding and ability to detect, monitor, assess, and predict HAB and hypoxia events.

Interagency Working Group

The Interagency Working Group on HABHRCA (IWG-HABHRCA) is tasked with coordinating and convening Federal agencies and their stakeholders to discuss HAB and hypoxia events in the United States, and to develop action plans and assessments of these situations. NOAA co-chairs the IWG-HABHRCA with EPA. Other member agencies include:



HABHRCA 2014 – Required

HABHRCA 2004 – Submitted to Congress

HABHRCA 1998 – Submitted to Congress

Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force was established in the fall of 1997 to understand the causes and effects of eutrophication in the Gulf of Mexico; coordinate activities to reduce the size, severity, and duration; and ameliorate the effects of hypoxia. Activities include coordinating and supporting nutrient management activities from all sources, restoring habitats to trap and assimilate nutrients, and supporting other hypoxia related activities in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico watersheds.

The Task Force includes federal and state agencies and the tribes. Federal agencies include those with responsibilities over activities in the Mississippi River and its basin, and in the Gulf of Mexico. The role of the Task Force is to provide executive level direction and support for coordinating the actions of participating organizations working on nutrient management within the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed. The Task Force has designated members of a Coordinating Committee, and solicits information from interested stakeholders.

More information

Extramural Programs

There are a number of extramural funding programs available through member agencies in the IWG-HABHRCA that pertain to HABs and hypoxia. Please visit the links below for more information on these programs, including timing, focal areas, and how to apply.




National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


National Science Foundation