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New Ocean Observation Sensor to Benefit Abalone Industry

Sustainability Technology & equipment Clams +9 more

US - A new network of water sensors in Monterey Bay is now aiding the abalone industry by monitoring water quality for harmful algal blooms and other potential hazards, helping to keep the valuable shellfish safe to eat while increasing knowledge of the bays environment.

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The sensors monitor dissolved oxygen, ocean acidification levels, and oceanographic conditions that can lead to harmful algal blooms, among other hazards. The measurements will also create long, continuous records of the oceanographic environment in Monterey, feeding into the larger US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). This will also benefit other fisheries in the area and informs human health decisions.

The Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS), a regional member of the NOAA-led US IOOS programme, is partnering with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and the Monterey Abalone Company to install, operate, and maintain the water quality sensors in Monterey Bay. The system became operational in mid-June.

This is about lives and livelihoods and is as much about keeping the food we eat safe as it is about the economy, said Zdenka Willis, IOOS programme director. Knowing what is in the water is critical to the fishing and aquaculture industries, especially in areas like Monterey Bay, which can be susceptible to harmful algal blooms.

Harmful algal blooms are suspected as the culprit in a recent abalone mortality event off the northern California coast, resulting in significant impacts to shellfish populations and other marine life, said Dr Leslie Rosenfeld, CeNCOOS executive director. Californias farmed abalone industry produced more than 550,000 pounds of abalone worth approximately $9 million in 2008. This new station will help abalone growers monitor ocean conditions that can affect abalone health and take appropriate actions to safeguard their crops.

NOAA supported CeNCOOS paid for the instrumentation, while Monterey Abalone Company and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories will maintain the station and share the data collected using the CeNCOOS public website. Crews installed the new sensor at the Monterey Abalone Company facility at the Monterey commercial wharf.

IOOS is a federal, regional, and private-sector partnership led by NOAA, which works to enhance the ability to collect, deliver and use ocean information. IOOS delivers the data and information needed to increase understanding of our oceans and coasts, so that decision-makers can act to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect our environment