Information in this section is from the 2003 Golden Alga Workshop and was current at that time. Please see the main Golden Alga page and Current Bloom Status for up-to-date information.

Golden Alga Workshop

Background Information

Since the early 1980s, the occurrence of toxic golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) blooms have increased in Texas in number and range. These toxic alga blooms have resulted in large fish kills in five major rivers in Texas (Pecos River, Colorado River, Brazos River, Wichita River, and Canadian River). In recent years, toxic blooms have impacted major reservoirs managed for recreational fisheries that provide important recreational and tourism opportunities for the public. State fish hatcheries associated with the Brazos and Red rivers have also been impacted by this toxic alga. The resulting economic impacts to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries management efforts, state parks, and local businesses have been significant. During this time, the golden alga has been confirmed in seven other states: Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

TPWD held a workshop in July 2001 at Possum Kingdom, Texas, with state, regional, and local agencies; government leaders; university researchers; and representatives of the public. The workshop discussed the problem and potential actions. One action from the workshop was for the Harmful Algal Bloom Subcommittee (of the state interagency Toxic Substances Coordinating Committee) to work with member agencies and university researchers to draft a report to the legislature that included potential actions and research with rough cost estimates.

Using information from this report and other sources, the state legislature authorized TPWD to spend $600,000 in each year of the 2004-2005 biennium ($1.2 million total) to address the golden alga problem. TPWD decided that in order to use these funds wisely and efficiently, the priority needs for developing management options for the golden alga had to be determined. The TPWD Golden Alga Task Force was organized to manage the departmental response to golden alga blooms and the problems they cause. The department held a scientific Golden Alga Workshop in October 2003 to generate and prioritize research and other needs for Texas. The workshop invited state, national, and international experts on the golden alga and other harmful algae to meet with stakeholders from nearby states, Texas state agencies, federal agencies, river authorities, university researchers, private industry, and the public. Invited speakers gave presentations discussing the situation in Texas, international research and understanding about the golden alga, and possible options to address the problem. The presenters and the stakeholders then interacted in facilitated sessions to develop lists of actions for a management plan for the golden alga.

TPWD will use the results of this workshop in determining priority actions and projects that can be undertaken with the funding available. Through a federally funded state wildlife grant, funding from other sponsors (Brazos River Authority and Lower Colorado River Authority), and cooperative efforts with the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, this workshop was conducted without expending any of the legislative authorized funds. Efforts will continue to try to increase the funds available for these activities through additional funding and cooperative efforts.

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