WGHABD is an important forum for ICES and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) to review and discuss HAB events and to provide annual advice and updates on the state of HABs in the region. It also facilitates interaction between scientists working in diverse areas of HAB science and monitoring and provides a forum for the interchange of various approaches to HAB research. The group reports to both to ICES Science Committee (SCICOM) and UNESCO Intergovernmental Panel on Harmful Algal Blooms (IOC IPHAB).
Harmful algal blooms are a global problem and can cause substantial economic, societal, and human health problems. One example is filter feeders such as shellfish accumulating toxins produced by certain algae when feeding. Humans and other organisms can become ill or even die after eating the shellfish. Another example is algae killing fish through 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 grazing organism.
Information on HABs and their effects is reported yearly and is available in the harmful algal bloom event database.
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