Sullivan, Baldwin, Bonamici & Joyce Lead Legislation to Improve Harmful Algal Bloom Response
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), have introduced the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act (HABHRCA) of 2023, legislation to reauthorize the HABHRCA of 1998 and to improve monitoring, forecasting, prevention, and mitigation of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia by requiring better coordination among task force agencies, and state and local entities, including Indian tribes.
This legislation comes in response to the increasing severity of harmful algal blooms in Alaska, with the 2022 algal bloom in the Bering Strait region being one of the largest and most toxic blooms ever observed nationwide. HABs directly threaten food security and subsistence in Alaska. Additionally, HABs can reduce oxygen levels in the water in events called hypoxia, killing fish and other marine life and harming coastal ecosystems and economies. HABs occur in all 50 states, in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
“As America’s leading seafood producer and home to more coastline than the contiguous Lower 48 states combined, Alaska is particularly vulnerable to harmful algal blooms,” Senator Sullivan said. “Unchecked HABs can threaten our marine life and coastal ecosystems, the livelihoods of our commercial fisheries and coastal communities, and the health and well-being of Alaskans. It is critical that we develop and coordinate effective responses to harmful algal blooms and efficiently monitor the health of our oceans for the sake of coastal communities, especially subsistence communities, and ecosystems across the country.”
“Our Great Lakes and abundant fresh waters are among Wisconsin’s most valuable resources, supporting wildlife, our economy, and our way of life. I am proud to be a partner in protecting these critical ecosystems from harmful algal blooms that have the potential to endanger our Made in Wisconsin economy and public health,” said Senator Baldwin. “The critical support provided by this bipartisan legislation ensures that we can monitor algal bloom and hypoxia growth in our fresh waters, while preventing and mitigating their spread. I am proud to lead this legislation with Senator Sullivan to ensure generations to come can enjoy and benefit from the Great Lakes and Wisconsin’s inland waters.”
“Harmful algal blooms and hypoxia events are occurring with increasing frequency, threatening the health of our marine and freshwater ecosystems and communities,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “I’m introducing the bipartisan Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act to help people in NW Oregon and across the country better protect against and respond quickly to these disasters.”
“The shallowest of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, is particularly vulnerable to harmful algal blooms, which have plagued the lake for more than 45 years. Any threat to Lake Erie is also a threat to the drinking water supply for 11 million people, our tourism industry, and all the plants and animals that are part of the lake’s ecosystem,” said Congressman Joyce. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill to ensure Lake Erie and every state in America is protected from these dangerous threats to our bodies of water.”
A copy of the bill, S.3348, can be found here.
The original Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) was passed in 1998 and established an interagency task force to assess the distribution of harmful algal blooms and their impacts on coastal waters and human health. HABHRCA has since been reauthorized three times, through FY 2023, and is currently due for reauthorization. This bill reauthorizes the original 1998 HABHRCA, and improves coordination among state and local entities, as well as Indian tribes, to improve monitoring, forecasting, prevention, and mitigation of HABs and hypoxia.
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