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A coordinated federal program is needed to develop a strategy for the prevention, control, and mitigation of harmful algal blooms (HABs), according to a 12 September interagency report issued by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. National Science and Technology Council. The congressionally mandated report, “National Assessment of Efforts to Predict and Respond to Harmful Algal Blooms in U.S. Waters,” notes that “the frequency and geographic distribution of HABs have been increasing worldwide.” The report also indicates that all U.S. coastal states have experienced HABs over the last decade and that the blooms appear to be affecting freshwater systems more frequently.

NOAA Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher said the report “is the first step in developing a national plan to improve those efforts.” The report, which calls for increased availability of probes and for platforms for continuous real-time monitoring, also notes that newly developed technologies can be used for rapid detection of toxins. In addition, satellite and automated underwater vehicles together with transport models have helped coastal managers to better predict bloom movement. For more information, visit the Web site: http://ocean.ceq.gov/about/docs/iwg4h_prrpt_final.pdf.