2004 National Plan


The 1993 National Plan?

The National HAB Plan (Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algae: A National Plan) was drafted in 1993 and has served as the guiding document for the US HAB program over the last decade. The plan, a product of a workshop convened the previous year in Charleston, SC, identified 28 major impediments to understanding and mitigating the impacts of HABs. These impediments were condensed into 8 specific objectives to address the comprehensive goal of “Effective management of fisheries, public health, and ecosystem problems related to marine biotoxins and harmful algae.”

Much of the work that has addressed these objectives was sponsored through the multi-Federal agency research program ECOHAB (Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms), as well as established programs in NOAA’s NOS (MERHAB), NOAA’s OAR (Sea Grant), EPA (STAR Program), CDC, NIEHS, and USDA. These programs have fueled a substantial increase in our knowledge about many HAB taxa that occur in the U.S., associated environmental conditions that regulate their growth and alter their physiology, general ecology, toxin production and impact, and roles in ecosystem dynamics and potential impacts on human health.

After a decade and substantial resource investment through Federal and state programs, it is time to re-examine the National Plan to assess what has been accomplished and what work is required in the future. Additionally, the decade’s research, monitoring, and outreach efforts have resulted in the elucidation of several overlooked areas in the initial Plan and, therefore, revision of the Plan is warranted.

Developing the New National Plan
A National Plan Steering Committee has been charged to work with the Ecological Society of America to develop a National Plan for Algal Toxins and Harmful Algal Blooms with a purpose to provide the consensus of the U.S. scientific and management community of impediments to harmful algae research and a vision for the next decade that serves as a framework for initiatives to promote effective management of fisheries, protected species, coastal resources, and public health on issues involving harmful algal blooms.

The intent of the National Plan Steering Committee is to maintain the utmost of transparency in the process of developing the revised plan and in providing opportunities for the community to provide the critical input necessary to develop a Plan that reflects the view of the harmful algal bloom community. Several steps have been taken to ensure the broadest input in the process:

  1. Planning Committee: A two-tiered Planning Committee of individuals representing the HAB community spectrum has been formed to plan a workshop to revisit and revise the U.S. National HAB Plan.
    • A 14 member Steering Committee was identified for their expertise in HAB related scientific and management disciplines critical to the review and revision of the National Plan. The Steering Committee is responsible for the development of the workshop and the production of the revised National Plan.
    • An Advisory Committee has been  formed to enable a wide range of stake holders, including representatives of federal and state agencies, academia, industry, and citizen groups with an interest in managing the impacts of HABs on human health and ecosystems, to provide input into the development of the Plan. The Advisory Committee will identify questions or needs to be considered at the Workshop and review and comment on the Workshop agenda and draft Plan.

  2. White Papers: The Planning Committee is drafting a series of White Papers on the topics of toxins, bloom ecology & dynamics, food webs & fisheries, and infrastructure. The White Papers will be written with input from the HAB community through a widely disseminated questionnaire and through voluntary participation in discussions at the US HAB Symposium in Woods Hole in December 2003. This strategy will result in the Plan being vetted by the broadest possible cross section of the HAB community, lending strength to its use as a guide for implementing HAB programs. These White Papers will provide a basis for detailed analysis at the Workshop.

  3. Workshop: A five day workshop will be held March 21 through 25 at NOAA's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research Laboratory in Charleston SC. The Workshop will be designed by the National Plan Steering Committee to address the four themes detailed in the White Papers and Workshop participants selected by the Committee for defined subject needs within these themes.

  4. The Revised National Plan: The Steering Committee will take the lead in completing the Plan. The draft plan will go through a review process with input from the Advisory Committee and other members of the HAB community.

The Revised National Plan
The 2003 National Plan for Algal Toxins and Harmful Algal Blooms will be completed and available in summer of 2004. The plan will be used to inform the U.S. Congress, State and County legislators, and the public on benefits from Federal investment in HAB research to date. It will also present the community consensus description of major areas needing future investment which will guide existing Federal research programs and contribute to the development of new initiatives. The Plan will be available from ESA upon request and will also be posted on line by the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program and National Office of Marine Algae and Biotoxins at WHOI.


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