Home Back Issues October 2010 Predicting algae blooms in time to help coast economy

Predicting algae blooms in time to help coast economy

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
1010_ATS15
Morgaine McKibben collects samples off the Coast to help MOCHA's algae research. // PHOTO COURTESY OF COAS

A statewide research group is developing a way to forecast harmful algae blooms to help mitigate the negative economic impact that beach closures have on Oregon’s coastal communities.

MOCHA (Monitoring Oregon’s Coastal Harmful Algae) is comprised of university and government agency researchers who have been  studying the blooms since 2007. The blooms happen when marine algae populations explode and produce toxins that infect shellfish. The blooms then force communities to close their beaches to shellfish harvesting. Razor clams are especially monitored because even weeks after feeding they can retain the toxins, which can cause paralysis and in some cases death in humans.

A yearlong closure to razor clamming in 2003 cost Clatsop County businesses $4.8 million in revenue. “The peak season is around April to June,” says MOCHA team member Matt Hunter of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Avid bivalve hunters make hotel reservations months in advance for that time period and then abruptly cancel when a closure is announced. This keeps the lodging industry from being able to fill those rooms on short notices. By getting an early bloom alert, and thus a possible beach closure, lodging businesses would have time to fill those cancellations.

Blooms also have negative repercussions for commercial razor clam distributors. It takes about a week to determine whether clams are tainted, says Alex Manderson of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “The harvester gets paid regardless,” says Hunter. “If the clams turn out to be bad, you have to use them for bait or just discard them.” According to Jon Hartill, co-owner of seafood store Bell Buoy of Seaside, the 2003 closure cost him upward of $60,000 because he had already paid harvesters for the clams and they could not be sold to consumers. Earlier notice of a bloom would have helped prevent this.

“The incidence of [blooms] has increased worldwide. We’re the first monitoring program to determine the frequency along the Oregon coast,” says MOCHA team member Angel White of Oregon State University. The application of MOCHA’s forecasting model currently is limited. “It’s like a weather forecast: We can tell what it’s going to be like today. We want to be able to do monthly forecasts,” Hunter says.

“We’re in data-crunching mode,” White says.

PETER BELAND

 

More Articles

Private liberal arts education: superior outcomes, competitive price

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
0826 thumb collegemoneyBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?


Read more...

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Pete Friedes

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

082714-thumb friedesbookTom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.


Read more...

How to add positivity to your team

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 12, 2014
happy-seo-orlando-clientsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

I often talk about what leaders can do. What about followers? If you’re a team member and you’d like to add positivity to your team, what might you do?


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS