(OT?) Australia - Toxic algae a $200m peril

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Toxic algae a $200m peril
Wednesday 9 February 2000

Toxic algal blooms in freshwater systems cost the nation about $200million a year, a report says.

These spectacular blooms periodically foul big eastern-state inland waterways with blue-green microscopic organisms when high nutrient loads coincide with still waters. In one recent big outbreak last Easter, the Gippsland Lakes were affected.

According to the first national report on the cost of the toxic pollutants, freshwater blooms directly cost at least $104million annually for users who must take the water. But it puts the costs to other activities such as tourism and fishing at an extra $76million to $136million annually.

A CSIRO scientist coordinating a national response to the problem, Dr Richard Davis, said the study showed the costs of the blooms were much larger than was thought, and would be higher if estuarine costs were included.

The report for the National Eutrophication Management Program was released yesterday at an international Harmful Algal Blooms conference in Hobart.

It showed that the effects of algal bloom spread beyond the communities that would otherwise take the water directly.

Dr Davis said these communities faced easily calculated direct costs in filtration and dam closure and for irrigation. Monitoring of the outbreaks alone cost $9million.

The Harmful Algal Blooms conference heard that scientists had successfully tracked links in the food chain between the deaths of Californian seals and maritime toxic blooms.

The research also suggested a possible link between the blooms and whale strandings.


Posted as general awareness article. Toxic blooms are indicative of ecosystem management problems. Previous posts have canvassed this issue.

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 08, 2000


Flash Report:

"Toxic Algae Eat Melbourne! Thousands Lost! Sydney Feared Next!"

-- (a@a.a), February 08, 2000.

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