The Harmful Algal Bloom and Analytical Response (HABAR) branch encompasses the Marine
Biotoxins Program and the Marine Forensics Program, which investigate the effects
of natural and anthropogenic activities on coastal health and fisheries resources.
The Marine Biotoxins Program targets its research to better understand the regulation
of harmful algal blooms (HABs) responsible for the production of algal toxins and
toxic impacts of algal toxins on marine species and humans to meet the mandate of
the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Control Act.
The program supports HAB
forecasts and event response investigations through the volunteer phytoplankton
monitoring network, analytical response and technology transfer teams. HABs represent
a present and growing threat to virtually all U.S. coastal waters, where their impacts
range from devastating economic effects to public health risks to ecosystem alterations.
HABs, often referred to collectively as "red tides", are most often of concern because
of the extremely potent toxins they produce. When HAB toxins accumulate in marine
animals they lead to closures of commercial and recreational fisheries, mass mortalities
of birds, fish, and marine mammals, and human illness or death in extreme cases.
HABAR's Marine Forensics Program investigates human activities that harm protected
fisheries and endangered marine species and provides legal evidence for enforcement
of laws such as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Endangered
Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Lacey Act.
The Marine Forensics Program
aims to stem the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade and protect our nation's
natural resources. In doing so, they also investigate the continued illegal use
of often charismatic apex species such as sharks, whales, sea turtles, and game
fish populations already declining due to anthropogenic and natural forces.
Programs and Research Capabilities
The HABAR branch has the following research and response programs.