ICES - IOC Working Group on Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics



WGHABDWGHABDTrueEileen BresnanSSGEPDeileen.bresnan@scotland.gsi.gov.uk58ICES - IOC Working Group on Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics



The Working Group on Harmful Algal Bloom Dynamics (WGHABD) looks at the dynamics of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB).

​​​​​​​​​​​​​WGHABD is an important forum for ICES and IOC to review and discuss HAB events and to provide advice and updates on the state of HABs in the region on an annual basis. It also facilitates interaction between scientists working in diverse areas of HAB science and monitoring and provides a useful forum for the interchange of useful terms of reference on various approaches to HAB research.

The present working group was established in 1994 following a study group on the Dynamics of Algal Blooms set up two years earlier; however, its origins go back even further to the 1980s, when the group evolved from other study groups within ICES. Today WGHABD reports both to ICES-SCICOM via SSGHIE and the UNESCO-IOC International Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms (IPHAB).

Harmful Algal Blooms is a global problem and can cause substantial economic, societal, and human health problems. Certain algae (mainly phytoplankton), for example, produce toxins, and filter feeders such as shellfish accumulate these toxins when feeding. The term red tide is sometimes used for this phenomenon. Humans and other organisms become ill or even die after eating the shellfish. Syndromes are named Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP), Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) etc. Another example is algae that cause fish mortalities due to damage of the gills. Other algae cause oxygen deficiency or are a nuisance during mass occurrences. Some bottom dwelling microalgae produce toxins that may also accumulate in fish.

HAB development is influenced by physical oceanographic processes as well as factors such as nutrient input and interactions with grazers. Information on HAB’s and their effects is reported yearly and is available in the harmful Algal Bloom Event Database.

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