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California coastal waters are threatened by harmful algal blooms (HABs), but the state’s budget for monitoring is under pressure for cutbacks. Economic realities compel managers to find efficient methods to keep up with their increased monitoring burden.

The goal of Cal-PReEMPT is to implement an economically sustainable harmful algal bloom monitoring plan for the California coastline that exceeds current capabilities of the California Department of Health Services using new technologies for rapid toxin and species detection and tracking.

New tools for harmful algal bloom research such as molecular probes ("fingerprints" for organisms), satellite remote sensing, and rapid toxin analysis are constantly evolving. NOAA, through its Monitoring and Event Response Program for Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB), fosters transfer of these advances from a research setting to end users and managers. Cal-PReEMPT was jointly conceived and developed between the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) Biotoxins Program, charged with ensuring seafood safety, and researchers actively engaged in developing and using new methods for harmful algal bloom research. This partnership will bridge the gulf between development and effective implementation of these technologies.

Pilot Sites

Locations for pilot projects have been selected based on their diversity of ecological conditions and HAB species, high relative frequency of occurrence for the target HAB species and toxins, and availability of historic and/or existing oceanographic programs. The selected sites are (1) the Drakes Bay region along the Marin coast; (2) Monterey Bay, including sites in Santa Cruz and Monterey; and (3) San Luis Obispo.