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Webinar: Alaskan Tribal partnership to protect subsistence harvested shellfish from Harmful Algal Bloom toxins

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Thursday, 16 September 2021, 3:30

Thursday, September 16, 2021. 3:30 PM. Webinar: Alaskan Tribal partnership to protect subsistence harvested shellfish from Harmful Algal Bloom toxins. Steve Morton and Tod Leighfield, NOAA. Sponsored by NOAA. More information here. Register here.

Abstract: Coastal tribes in Southeast, Southcentral and Arctic Alaska rely on a variety of marine resources, including shellfish, crabs and marine mammals, as traditional and subsistence food. Toxicity levels in subsistence harvested food resulting from the presence of harmful algae are unknown in this region, thus placing Tribal members and the wider community at risk of human health impacts, including death, from toxins from traditional and subsistence harvested food. NOAA supports Alaskan Tribal communities by utilizing the citizen science approach of the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network in building monitoring and forecasting capabilities for algal toxins in Tribal subsistence, traditional, and recreational harvests. An effective harmful algal bloom surveillance program encompasses three distinct phases: phytoplankton monitoring used as an early warning based on the presence of potential HABs, toxin detection to determine if subsistence foods meet the FDA safety guidelines for consumption for Tribal members, and dissemination of results to end user groups to protect communities from HAB impacts. This includes facilitating phytoplankton identification trainings and workshops, expanding and validating toxin detection methods, and communicating results to Tribal harvesters; all which help build a network of user groups that work directly to reduce the impacts caused by HABs and their toxins.

Bio(s): Steve Morton received his B.S and M.S. from Florida Institute of Technology in Biological Oceanography and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University. He is currently a Research Oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Reference Branch. Steve is the Principal Investigator of the NOAA Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN), a citizen science program whose volunteers represent public and private schools, colleges and universities, Native American tribes, state and national parks, aquariums, civic groups, shellfish growers and other non-governmental organizations.Tod Leighfield received his B.S. from Northeastern University, a MS from College of Charleston and his Ph.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina. He a chemist at NOAA's Charleston laboratory, in the National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. Through his research, he has developed detection techniques and conducted toxicological investigations for toxins associated with algal blooms. He has participated in multiple epidemiological investigations resulting from the impacts of harmful algal blooms to both wildlife and humans. He has led the development of environmental monitoring programs for HABs and their toxins both domestically and internationally. His work in applying detection products that empower communities to effectively monitor toxins produced during harmful algal blooms has helped to mitigate the impacts of toxic harmful algal blooms on coastal communities.

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