Harmful Algal Blooms and California Fisheries

We led a working group to explore harmful algal blooms (HABs) and toxins in the marine environment, and their impact to fisheries along the coast of California.


Harmful Algal Blooms Workshop Summary: Key Themes, Highlights, and Next Steps

March 2018

Includes lessons learned from Oregon, Washington, and federal government and focuses on how the scientific understanding of harmful algal blooms can inform domoic acid monitoring for seafood safety in California.

Download the Summary here


Framing the Scientific Opportunities on Harmful Algal Bloocover-snapshotms and California Fisheries:
Scientific Insights, Recommendations and Guidance for California

October 2016

Developed by a working group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team and California Ocean Science Trust

Download the report here (PDF)


Frequently Asked Questions: Harmful Algal Blooms and California Fisheries

faq-cover-imageAugust 2016

Developed by California Ocean Science Trust in response to the 2015-2016 domoic acid event

Download the report here (PDF)


In 2015 and 2016, elevated levels of domoic acid were observed in major commercial and recreational shellfisheries in California, including Dungeness crab and rock crab, leading to health advisories and fishery closures during the 2015/16 season. Given California’s changing ocean conditions and increasing threats to coastal economies, the State is interested in exploring opportunities to bolster its existing seafood biotoxin sampling and harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring programs, as well as advance our understanding and ability to predict HAB events and fishery impacts.


Project timeline: June – October 2016

In response to these events, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) and the Interagency Marine Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force (Task Force) have asked California Ocean Science Trust to convene an OPC Science Advisory Team (SAT) working group to:

  • Explore the science supporting California’s existing HAB and biotoxin monitoring in the marine environment along the coast of California; and
  • Provide scientific guidance on how to add capacity and support state needs, as described below.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. Ocean Science Trust developed an FAQ document based on questions submitted by fishing leadership, agencies and regulators, and others. This document prioritized answering questions that do not require additional research, and focuses on four topical areas:

  • HABs and seafood toxin monitoring efforts in California
  • Domoic acid and California fisheries
  • Human health and seafood safety concerns
  • California’s fishery and seafood toxin management

Download the report here (PDF)


Scientific Guidance Document. We worked closely with the SAT working group to develop scientific guidance and options for adding capacity to the State’s existing HAB monitoring and sampling efforts. This document:

  • reflects on our current understanding of harmful algal blooms in light of the 2015-16 domoic acid event
  • identifies primary science needs
  • determines how the scientific community can best add capacity to the State as we prepare for future toxic bloom events in California.

Download the report here (PDF)


Dr. Dave Caron
Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California

Dr. WIlliam Cochlan
Senior Research Scientist, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University

Dr. Raphe Kudela
Professor, Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Gregg Langlois
Senior Environmental Scientist, California Department of Health (retired), Interagency Marine HAB Task Force 

Additional Resources

  • Scope of Work (PDF)
  • SAT Working Group 6/27/2016 workshop agenda
  • Full list of submitted questions (PDF)
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