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

Workshop Summary

Larry McKinney addressing Golden Alga WorkshopThe Golden Alga Workshop was a groundbreaking effort to bring researchers and practitioners together to chart a course of action for understanding and combating golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) blooms. This document includes workshop highlights, observations, and potential recommendations, summarizes the output of the workshop planning process, and outlines a framework for moving forward. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Golden Alga Task Force will take the results and recommendations from the workshop to help develop priorities and action plans for addressing golden alga issues and funding efforts.

The workshop facilitators (Group Solutions) drafted a summary of the results from the Golden Alga Workshop for the TPWD Golden Alga Task Force to review and revise for a basis for moving efforts along to address golden alga issues. Several facilitated discussion groups were held for identified stakeholder groups. The following lists were compiled from the results of those group discussions. This first step has been taken to create a living document that incorporates discussion group output and recommendations from the workshop’s sessions.

Develop A Statement On Research Direction.
The research community and front-line managers clearly stated what they believe needs to be done. Future research and field work should be targeted for developing golden alga management strategies. Proposed research should be examined using the following criteria. If it does not directly contribute to one of the criteria, it may not represent an activity that is addressing identified needs.

Create An Action Plan With Defined Roles And Responsibilities.
The most effective role for TPWD will be that of a facilitator for gathering and focusing a broad range of state, national, and international stakeholders to address this issue…not that of the unilateral problem solver. Multiple stakeholders will have roles to play in addressing and advancing the knowledge on this issue. TPWD should focus on increasing the size and scope of the dialog and the problem-solvers working toward a solution.

Identify Collaborative Research Priorities.
Initial research priorities were jointly developed by teams of scientists and front line managers. These priorities are not listed in any order of importance but include the following:

Priorities identified by researchers:
New field tools are needed to accelerate identification and classification of toxic alga, and toxin dynamics. Hand-held detection device for cells and/or toxins need to be evaluated for field suitability, cost-effectiveness, and accuracy compared to conventional lab techniques. The ones showing greatest promise are:

More systematic monitoring is needed that focuses on the complete history of specific blooms start to finish. Affected water systems should be monitored at least monthly to establish better baseline data. Daily sampling would be preferable for many researchers. While no single partner may be able to handle the entire task, a coalition of volunteers working together can show progress. A preliminary parameter request list includes:

These will need to be “reality-checked” against the measurements that can reliably be delivered if field volunteers with limited technical experience are used. Some compromises may need to be made.

Research and data protocols must be established to enable the exchange and correlation of data from independent studies.

Priorities identified by front-line managers:

These models will be used to spotlight information gaps that will help direct future research on preventing or reducing the severity of blooms and to fully understand the full range of golden alga parameters that require monitoring.

Secure Needed Funding.
The present level of funding was acknowledged as probably not being sufficient to address all the issues and needs raised at the workshop. The need for continued funding was expressed. Potential components of a funding strategy were identified by a discussion group and include the following:

Funds are limited and it will be critical to award research funds to those that can generate tangible results. Invest in proposals that can produce the greatest short-term “bang for the buck.” Use these results to build momentum and establish credibility that a successful plan is being built.

One potential strategy for screening research requests would be to use a simple matrix scoring potential research and action using 1 to 10 criteria. A starting point for this evaluation list might include the following:

Define Roles And Responsibilities For Communication And Coordination.
Central to the success of this effort is establishing consistent messages that can be agreed to by key stakeholders and reinforced by repetition. Specific distribution lists have been requested for statewide data distribution. Additional distributions may be required for regional, national, and international partners.

Create A Public Outreach Plan and Communication Strategy.
Important first steps have been taken to establish a comprehensive website that will become the central source of information for citizens and stakeholders. The website may prove useful as a central “data portal”, providing scientists and other interested people an entry point to all research and data. There appears to be a site already available through the TCEQ that can be linked to for historical water quality data in many water bodies.

The discussion group identified a preliminary list of communication messages, strategies, and guidance:

Guiding Principles
To supplement the action plan, several important guiding principles may be useful to keep in mind when choosing between the many action alternatives with which the Golden Alga Task Force will be faced.

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