Sponsored by Oregon Business

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

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...

LEED for weed

Linda Baker
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
012815-potcarbon-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

What is the impact of the legal pot industry on carbon emissions?


Read more...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

2015 100 Best companies announced

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 0022cneditBY OB STAFF

The 100 Best list recognizes large, medium and small companies for excellence in work environment, management and communications, decision-making and trust, career development and learning, and benefits and compensation.


Read more...

4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal

The Latest
Thursday, February 12, 2015
021315-govorno-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Examining the governor's rapid fall from grace in a "bizarre" and "unprecedented" saga.


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