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Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act

The Issue

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxic events (severe oxygen depletion) are some of the most scientifically complex and economically damaging coastal issues challenging our ability to safeguard the health of our nation’s coastal ecosystems. Almost every state in the U.S. now experiences some kind of HAB event and the number of hypoxic water bodies in the U.S. has increased 30 fold since the 1960s with over 300 coastal systems now impacted.

A 2006 study shows that the economic impacts from a subset of HAB events in U.S. marine waters averaged to be $82 million/year (2005 dollars). However, just one major HAB event can cost local coastal economies tens of millions of dollars, indicating that the nationwide economic impact of HABs is likely much larger.

Legislative History

In 1998, Congress recognized the severity of these threats and authorized the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA 1998; embedded in Public Law 105-383). The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2004 (HABHRCA 2004, Public Law 108–456) and 2014 (HABHRCA 2014, Public Law 113–124) reaffirmed and expanded the mandate for NOAA to advance the scientific understanding and ability to detect, monitor, assess, and predict HAB and hypoxia events.


HABHRCA 1998 and 2004 authorized funding for intramural research and for competitive research programs on HABs and hypoxia:


HABHRCA 2014 – Required

  • HAB and Hypoxia Comprehensive Research Plan and Action Strategy
  • Report on Implementation of the HAB and Hypoxia Action Strategy
  • Great Lakes Hypoxia and HAB Integrated Assessment (Incorporated into the Research Plan and Action Strategy)
  • Great Lakes HAB and Hypoxia Plan
  • Progress Report on Northern Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

HABHRCA 2004 – Submitted to Congress

HABHRCA 1998 – Submitted to Congress