Sending Office: Honorable Suzanne Bonamici
Sent By:
Maxine.Sugarman@mail.house.gov

Support Coastal Communities – Fund Harmful Algal Blooms Research

Support Research on Harmful Algal Blooms in FY20

*Programmatic Request*

Complete THIS FORM to Sign On

Deadline: Monday, March 25th

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in requesting the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies support robust funding for NOAA’s Coastal Science, Assessment, Response, and Restoration account and Competitive Research account in Fiscal Year
2020.

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) affect marine, coastal, estuarine, and freshwater systems in all 50 states and all U.S. territories. HABs can occur naturally, and in response to certain environmental stressors, such as increased nutrient runoff and pollution,
changes in water flow, and increased water temperatures. As the algae die and decompose, they consume oxygen, leaving waterways in a hypoxic state that can result in the formation of “dead zones” where marine life cannot survive. This results in significant
economic losses for our communities that rely on fishing, shellfish harvesting, and tourism.

We must improve our understanding of harmful algal blooms and develop a stronger strategy to help communities better predict and reduce the number of harmful algal blooms and hypoxic events. Research from NOAA and its academic, state, tribal, non-profit,
industry, and local partners supports the development of harmful algal bloom forecasts and provides resource managers with tools and best management practices to better understand, predict, and mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. These
efforts will help protect the health of our coastal communities, local economies, and natural resources.

If you would like to sign the letter please,
please complete this form
. For additional information, please contact Maxine Sugarman in Rep. Bonamici’s office at
Maxine.Sugarman@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

 

Suzanne Bonamici                              Bill Posey                                           

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress                                     

 

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott                    Brian Mast

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

 

Letter Text:

Dear Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholdt:

As you consider the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act, we write to respectfully request robust funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Ocean Service Coastal Science, Assessment, Response, and Restoration account and Competitive
Research account. This funding would strengthen research on environmental stressors on our ocean and coastal resources and expand competitive research grants that threaten ocean health, including harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.

Harmful algal blooms (HABs), including red tides, brown tides, and blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), affect marine, coastal, estuarine, and freshwater systems in all 50 states and all U.S. territories. HABs can occur naturally, and in response to certain
environmental stressors, such as increased nutrient runoff and pollution, changes in water flow, and increased water temperatures. Some produce potent toxins, but even non-toxic algae can have harmful outcomes. As the algae die and decompose, they consume
oxygen, leaving waterways in a hypoxic or anoxic state that can result in massive fish kills and the formation of “dead zones” where marine life cannot survive. This results in significant economic losses for our communities that rely on fishing, shellfish
harvesting, and tourism.

Harmful algal bloom and hypoxic events threaten the health of our oceans, lakes, and rivers and can result in significant environmental, economic, and public health consequences. Our communities depend on clean and safe marine and freshwater resources and
the increasing presence of HABs across the country in recent years is detrimental to their well-being. HABs jeopardize access to clean drinking water, close beaches and reduce tourism in coastal communities, and challenges the livelihoods of commercial fisheries.

Harmful algal blooms across the country have set records for their extent, duration, and severity, with new species emerging. For example:  

  • In 2018, drinking water advisories were issued after two separate HABs toxins were detected above the EPA advisory levels in the Detroit Reservoir in Oregon, jeopardizing the water distribution system for the City of Salem, City of Turner, Suburban East
    Salem Water District, and Orchard Heights Water Association.

  • In 2018, toxicity samples from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection of water discharged Lake Okeechobee in Florida found cyanobacterial toxin levels 50 times higher than the safe level of toxicity for human contact. Concurrently, red tide along
    more than 200 miles of the Florida Gulf coast has devastated the marine ecosystem and tourism industry.

  • Drought conditions in 2016 resulted in a relatively modest cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Erie with respect to size and duration; however, the toxicity was dangerously high, pointing to the need to measure both biomass and toxicity. In 2015, Lake Erie experienced
    the largest cyanobacterial bloom in recorded history. 

  • In the fall of 2016, New England experienced the first-ever shellfish harvesting closures from Maine to Rhode Island due to blooms of toxic diatom that causes Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning. Recalls of toxic shellfish were required, damaging confidence in the
    State’s products. Similar outbreaks occurred in 2018, again with damaging product recalls.

  • In the summer of 2015, potent neurotoxins associated with the so-called “warm blob” off the Pacific Coast triggered a simultaneous toxic algae bloom. The results were devastating for the shellfish industry; the delayed opening of the Dungeness crab fishery
    alone cost the industry $48 million. 

We must improve our understanding of harmful algal blooms and develop a stronger strategy to help communities better predict and reduce the number of harmful algal blooms and hypoxic events. Research from NOAA and its academic, state, tribal, non-profit,
industry, and local partners supports the development of harmful algal bloom forecasts, near-real time harmful algal bloom and toxin detection technologies, and a robust understand of harmful algal bloom ecology, all of which provide local resource managers
with tools and best management practices to better understand, predict, and mitigate the effects of environmental stressors like harmful algal blooms and hypoxia on their communities, ecosystems, and economies.

Federal investments are helping advance our understanding of harmful algal blooms and other ecosystem stressors, but the scale of the program has not kept pace with the increasing incidence and severity of threats. We urge you to allocate robust funding
for the NOAA Coastal Science, Assessment, Response, and Restoration account and Competitive Research account to enhance our understanding of how changing climate conditions accelerate the presence of HABs, strengthen early warning, forecasting, and detection
tools, further our understanding of the socioeconomic effects of HABs on our coastal communities, and increase awareness of the ways HABs interact with other environmental stressors like hypoxia. This research would help communities better prepare for, mitigate,
and respond to harmful algal blooms and protect the health of our communities and our natural resources.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Environment, Natural Resources, Science

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