U.S. senator calls for red tide research


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
July 16, 2009

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) on Thursday called on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to secure additional federal funding to research Gulf of Maine red tide outbreaks.

In a letter to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Snowe asked for the reallocation of a minimum of USD 500,000 (EUR 354,700) to determine the extent of the red tide outbreak that has closed nearly all of Maine's clam and quahog beds to harvesting this month.

The research would help predict the bloom's duration and its effect on future red tide outbreaks.

"Maine is currently besieged by the most virulent red ride event ever recorded in the region. As a result of this outbreak, over 97 percent of the coast of our state has been closed to the harvest of clams, mussels, ocean quahogs and other shellfish," said Snowe in the letter.

"I request that you allocate at least USD 500,000 to carry out one or more such research cruises as soon as possible," she added. "I understand that this may require reassignment of one of NOAA's research vessels undertaking alternate research in the area, but given the immediacy and the historic nature of this unprecedented event, disruption of ongoing research may be warranted to deal with this natural disaster."

Red tide is caused by naturally occurring algal blooms that produce a toxin ingested by feeding shellfish. While harmless to bivalves like clams, mussels and oysters, high levels of red tide toxins can cause people who eat them to become sick or even die.

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