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Maggie Mooney-Seus
(978) 281-9175
May 14, 2009
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930-2276

NOAA Approves State Spending Plan
for Federal Red Tide Disaster Aid

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alexandrium live
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Image of a living Alexandrium fundyense cell,a common cause of toxic algal blooms, swimming in water. Credit: Gary Wikfors/NOAA

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An Alexandrium spp. cell image from a scanning electron microscope showing details of cell structure. Credit: Steve Morton NOAA
Related Links
Summary of State Spending Plans
Disaster Declaration, November 2008
2009 New England Red TIde Updates
NOAA New England Red Tide Information Site
NMFS Northeast Red Tide Advisories

NOAA today approved state plans for spending $5 million in federal disaster aid intended to assist shellfish industries in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire affected by a 2008 harmful algal bloom outbreak, commonly referred to as red tide.  Maine and Massachusetts will each receive $2 million and New Hampshire $1 million to support industry-driven efforts to better address future harmful algal bloom outbreaks.

On November 14, 2008, the Secretary of Commerce declared a commercial fishery failure because large areas of the coastline had to be closed to the harvesting of clams, mussels, oysters and other shellfish.  Shellfish in these coastal waters tested positive for infection, containing a single-cell algae that, when ingested by humans, can lead to potentially lethal paralytic shellfish poisoning.

Highlights of State Spending Plans

States plan to collaborate on a number of cross-state and independent research initiatives among these are:

  • Provide continued support to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to map the extent and location of the Alexandrium cyst bed in the western Gulf of Maine for use as a predictive tool for state program managers;
  • Produce outreach materials for use during the next severe bloom to provide the public with clear, accurate, and objective information about the risks of harmful algal blooms including harvest closures, consumption advisories, and the availability of wholesome seafood in commercial markets;
  • Maine and New Hampshire will explore alternative methods to detect and monitor the shellfish biotoxin and investigate paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in lobster tomalley; 
  • Maine will expand its buoy arrays for an existing PSP monitoring program;
  • Massachusetts will develop and implement a lost income subsidy program to compensate Massachusetts commercial shellfish harvesters for their economic loss resulting from the 2008 harmful algal bloom event.  In addition, funds will be used to support a health insurance subsidy program; and 
  • New Hampshire will expand and diversify its coastal shellfish aquaculture program in estuarine waters.

NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nationís living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

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