Impacts of Harmful Algal Blooms on West Coast Fishing Communities
Learn more about how harmful algal blooms hurt our economy.
We conduct research to better understand the social, cultural, and economic dimensions of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in fishing communities. We consider the direct effects of HABs on fisheries resources as well as the impacts of management and mitigation actions taken in response to HAB events. Adverse effects include:
- Economic losses associated with losses of commercial fish harvests and recreational fishing opportunities.
- Food insecurity from loss of subsistence harvest activities.
- Disruption of cultural and spiritual practices.
- Loss of community identity and social interactions tied to coastal resource use.
Preparing fishing communities for emerging and growing HAB events is key to reducing their impacts. We use a conceptual framework for human wellbeing to understand the human dimensions of HABs better and evaluate risk and resiliency factors that may affect a community’s ability to cope with a HAB event. Our goal is to inform the development of cost-effective and societally acceptable strategies to build resilience to future HAB events so that fishing communities can maintain their quality of life, valued customs, and economic industries.
Story Map: Hitting Us Where it Hurts
Pseudo-nitzschia, Domoic Acid, and West Coast Fisheries
Much of our research focuses on West Coast HABs of Pseudo-nitzschia that can contaminate fish and shellfish with the toxin domoic acid. Access to important commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries is restricted when domoic acid exceeds the regulatory thresholds for human consumption, disrupting social-ecological connections.
In 2015, a record-breaking bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia struck the West Coast, delaying the lucrative Dungeness crab fishery opening by up to five months and shutting down the popular razor clam fishery. We worked to document the impacts of the 2015 HAB on fishing communities, evaluate management responses and inform disaster risk reduction strategies, and understand the factors contributing to vulnerability and resilience of communities to HABs. Specific products include:
- A description of the social, cultural, and economic impacts of the 2015 HAB (Ritzman et al. 2018) and actions taken to cope with the event (Moore et al. 2020a).
- An estimation of lost revenues to fishers due to the 2015 HAB, and resulting losses in income and employment (Holland and Leonard 2020).
- Identification of effective adaptive actions used in communities in response to the 2015 HAB (Moore et al., 2020b).
- An examination of management actions at different levels of governance and responses of coastal residents to HABs using a disaster risk management framework (Ekstrom et al. 2020).
- Identification of West Coast fishing communities most vulnerable to HABs and development of an index of lost fishing opportunities due to HABs (Moore et al. 2019).
- An examination of distributional impacts of the 2015 HAB on small and large vessels in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery (Jardine et al. 2020).
- Quantification of changes to patterns of participation in commercial fisheries in response to the 2015 HAB (Fisher et al. in press).
Personal Accounts of a Massive Toxic Bloom
Learn more about the personal accounts of the socioeconomic effects of the 2015 HAB.
Learning from the Past
Learn about past impacts and how they can inform future actions.
Anderson, L. E., M. Plummer. 2017. Recreational demand for shellfish harvesting under environmental closures. Marine Resource Economics, 32(1):43-57. doi:10.1086/688975
Ritzman, J., Brodbeck, A., Brostrom, S., McGrew, S., Dreyer, S., Klinger, T., Moore, S.K., 2018. Economic and sociocultural impacts of fisheries closures in two fishing-dependent communities following the massive 2015 U.S. West Coast harmful algal bloom. Harmful Algae 80, 35-45; doi: 10.1016/j.hal.2018.1009.1002
Moore, S.K., Cline, M.R., Blair, K., Klinger, T., Varney, A., Norman, K., 2019. An index of fisheries closures due to harmful algal blooms and a framework for identifying vulnerable fishing communities on the U.S. West Coast. Marine Policy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103543.
Ekstrom, J.A., Moore, S.K., Klinger, T., 2020. Examining harmful algal blooms through a disaster risk management lens: A case study of the 2015 U.S. West Coast domoic acid event. Harmful Algae 94, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2020.101740.
Moore, S.K., Dreyer, S.J., Ekstrom, J.A., Moore, K., Norman, K., Klinger, T., Allison, E.H., Jardine, S.L., 2020a. Harmful algal blooms and coastal communities: socioeconomic impacts and actions taken to cope with the 2015 U.S. West Coast domoic acid event. Harmful Algae 96, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2020.101799.
Moore, K.M., Allison, E.H., Dreyer, S.J., Ekstrom, J.A., Jardine, S.L., Klinger, T., Moore, S.K., Norman, K.C., 2020b. Harmful algal blooms: identifying effective adaptive actions used in fishery-dependent communities in response to a protracted event. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00803.
Jardine, S.L., Fisher, M., Moore, S., Samhouri, J., 2020. Inequality in the economic impacts from climate shocks in fisheries: the case of harmful algal blooms. Ecol Econ 176, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106691.
Holland, D.S., Leonard, J., 2020. Is a delay a disaster? Economic impacts of the delay of the California Dungeness crab fishery due to a harmful algal bloom. Harmful Algae 98, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2020.101904.
Trainer, V.L. (Ed.), 2020. GlobalHAB. Evaluating, Reducing and Mitigating the Cost of Harmful Algal Blooms: A Compendium of Case Studies. PICES Sci. Rep. No. 59, 107 pp., https://meetings.pices.int/publications/scientific-reports.
Fisher, M.C., Moore, S.K., Jardine, S.L., Watson, J.R., Samhouri, J.F., in press. Climate shock effects and mediation in fisheries. PNAS.