NOAA provides grant for red tide research


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 30, 2009

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced it awarded a USD 457,000 grant to support three projects to improve management of ride tide in the Gulf of Maine.

The funding will cover the first year of three multi-year projects. The projects, carried out by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Maine and the University of Texas, they are anticipated to cost USD 1.5 million over the next three years.

The projects’ findings aim to better track and manage outbreaks of toxic red algae (Alexandrium fundyense algae) that threaten public health and New England’s shellfish industry. Findings will improve forecasts and may lead to strategies to prevent and control the red tide blooms.

“Forecasts of Alexandrium abundance and bloom extent are critical to help state managers prepare in advance to minimize impacts on local communities,” said Darcie Couture, director of biotoxin monitoring for the Maine Department of Marine Resources. “With that information as a guide, we can focus our shellfish monitoring efforts to make more selective harvesting closures and, once red tide starts to move out, more efficient re-openings.”

In July of this year, a red tide event caused an unprecedented near-complete halt to shellfish harvesting in Maine. Paralytic shellfish poisoning forces closures of productive shellfisheries every year. In 2005, lost shellfish sales caused by red tide closures in Maine and Massachusetts totaled USD 23 million.

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