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Alaskan Tribes Join Together to Assess Harmful Algal Blooms

Tribal Profiles
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Increasingly, evidence suggests that warmer ocean temperatures associated with climate change have contributed to worldwide increases in the duration, frequency, and geographical distribution of harmful algal blooms (HABs). As ocean temperatures rise, increases in HAB outbreaks are expected to worsen over the next few decades. In response, researchers, shellfish growers, and managers must begin to investigate adaptation strategies that can increase their resilience and their capacity to endure climate-driven changes in HAB events. Although the State of Alaska regularly tests commercial shellfisheries for toxins, they do not test recreational and subsistence shellfisheries. In October 2013—after two cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning in Sitka—regional tribal communities formed the Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins (SEATT) partnership to combat the risks of HABs to subsistence shellfish harvesters. The SEATT partnership seeks to bring tribes in southeastern Alaska together to assess the beaches and shellfish that the state cannot test, increasing access to subsistence resources for tribal members. To date, 11 of the 17 Tribal Nations located in southeast Alaska have joined the partnership. Training and technical assistance for the SEATT partnership is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Marine Biotoxin Programs in Seattle, Washington, and Charleston, South Carolina.