[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 84 (Monday, May 4, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 20465-20469]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-10187]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[Docket No. 090416674-9675-01]


Implementation of New Competitive Prevention, Control, and 
Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) Program and Regional Rotation 
of the Existing and New National Competitive HAB Programs

AGENCY:  National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

ACTION:  Notice; implementation of competitive research program.

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SUMMARY:  NOAA announces the implementation, under the authorities of 
the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) 
of 1998, as reauthorized in 2004, of a new competitive research program 
on Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (PCM 
HAB). This third national competitive program is a companion to the two 
existing national harmful algal bloom (HAB) programs, Ecology and 
Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) and Monitoring and Event 
Response of Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB), already implemented under 
the authorities of HABHRCA. PCM HAB will transition promising 
technologies and strategies for prevention, control, and mitigation, 
arising from these and other HAB research programs, to end-users. In 
addition, NOAA is announcing that funding opportunity announcements for 
ECOHAB, MERHAB, and HAB PCM will be rotated regionally on a three year 
basis. The three regional groupings are: Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean/
Pacific Islands; West Coast, Alaska, and Great Lakes; and South 
Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Maine.
    Details concerning appropriate research subjects for each program, 
more information about the regional rotation, and additional procedural 
information are also provided in this announcement.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Quay Dortch, ECOHAB Program 
Coordinator , 301/713-3338 ext 157, Quay.Dortch@NOAA.gov or Marc 
Suddleson, MERHAB Program Manager, 301/713-3338 ext. 162, 
Marc.Suddleson@noaa.gov, Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, 
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOS.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    The 1998 Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Control Act 
(HABHRCA) and the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Amendments Act of 
2004 (2004 HABHRCA Reauthorization) authorized the establishment of 
three national programs on harmful algal blooms (HABs):
    1. ``Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms'' (ECOHAB) 
(HABHRCA Sec. 605 (2));
    2. ``Monitoring and analysis activities for HABs'' (renamed 
Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Blooms or MERHAB) 
(HABHRCA Sec. 605 (4)); and
    3. ``A peer-reviewed research project on management measures that 
can be taken to prevent, reduce, control, and mitigate HABs.'' (HABHRCA 
Sec. 605 (3))
    To implement the HABHRCA, NOAA established in 1998 the ECOHAB 
program as an interagency (NOAA, National Science Foundation (NSF), 
Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration (NASA), Office of Naval Research (ONR), competitive 
research program, led by NOAA, and the MERHAB program as a NOAA 
competitive research program. ECOHAB provides coastal managers with the 
understanding, tools, and models to predict the development, extent, 
and toxicity of HABs and their impacts, leading to early warning and 
new prevention and mitigation strategies. MERHAB builds capacity and 
enhances partnerships between managers, researchers, and private 
industry to improve monitoring for HAB cells and toxins and responding 
to HAB events.
    NOAA is now announcing the establishment of a Prevention Control 
and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (PCM HAB) Program pursuant to 
HABHRCA section 605(3). In the following sections, the new PCM HAB

[[Page 20466]]

program will be described (Section II), the existing ECOHAB and MERHAB 
programs will be described (Section III), and distinctions between all 
three programs will be clarified (Section IV). NOAA is also announcing 
that funding for the national competitive HAB programs, ECOHAB, MERHAB, 
and PCM HAB will be implemented on a rotating regional basis, as 
described in Section V.

II. Announcement of New National Competitive PCM HAB Program

    Multiple interagency and HAB community reports and plans provide 
guidance for the new PCM HAB Program. The 2004 HABHRCA Reauthorization 
called for a National Scientific Research, Development, Demonstration, 
and Technology Transfer Plan on Reducing Impacts from Harmful Algal 
Blooms (RDDTT Plan) to ``establish priorities and guidelines for a 
competitive, peer-reviewed, merit based interagency research, 
development, demonstration, and technology transfer program on methods 
for the prevention, control, and mitigation of HABs.'' In response, a 
workshop was held to obtain input for this plan from HAB researchers, 
state and Federal resource and public health managers, and private 
industry. The resulting workshop report was published in September 
2008, HAB RDDTT National Workshop Report: A Plan for Reducing HABs and 
HAB Impacts (2008)\1\. The RDDTT Plan, based on the Workshop Report, 
was published in an interagency report, Harmful Algal Bloom Management 
and Response: Assessment and Plan (2008)\2\. Both the RDDTT Workshop 
Report and the RDDTT Plan provide recommendations to advance research 
on prevention, control and mitigation of HABs and form the basis for 
the new PCM HAB program. Additional guidance about appropriate areas of 
research are provided by Harmful Algal Research and Response: A Human 
Dimensions Strategy (2006)\3\, Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of 
Harmful Algal Blooms: A Research Plan (2001)\4\, and Harmful Algal 
Blooms in Coastal Waters: Options for Prevention, Control, and 
Mitigation (1997)\5\.
    The PCM HAB program will transition promising technologies and 
strategies for preventing, controlling, or mitigating HABs and their 
impacts from development through demonstration and technology transfer 
for field application by end-users. The technologies will arise from 
HAB research conducted by the two existing national HAB programs, 
ECOHAB and MERHAB, or other research programs such as Sea Grant, the 
NOAA Oceans and Human Health Initiative and the NSF/NIEHS Centers for 
Oceans and Human Health.
    The goals of PCM HAB are as follows:
    (1) Develop and make widely available new socially and 
environmentally acceptable strategies and methods for preventing, 
controlling, and mitigating HABs and their impacts; and
    (2) Assess the social and economic costs of HAB events and the 
costs and benefits of prevention, control, and mitigation to guide 
future research and aid in the selection of the most appropriate 
management strategies and methods.
    PCM research should address the following topics in order to meet 
the stated goals
    (1) Prevent HABs by:
    (a) Using and modifying existing models to identify strategies to 
prevent HABs, for example by nutrient reductions or hydrodynamic 
modifications, and
    (b) Minimizing or preventing introductions of invasive HAB species, 
their cysts, and organisms that facilitate the success of HAB species;
    (2) Control HABs and their impacts by:
    (a) Eliminating or reducing the levels of HAB organisms through 
biological, chemical, or physical removal mechanisms, and
    (b) Eliminating or reducing the levels of HAB toxins through 
biological, chemical or physical removal mechanisms;
    (3) Mitigate HABs and their impacts by developing or improving 
methods for
    (a) HAB cell and toxin detection,
    (b) Relocating or modifying aquaculture and wild-capture resources,
    (c) Harvesting bans and closures,
    (d) Fishing and processing practices,
    (e) Education and outreach,
    (f) Enhancing community capacity to respond to social and economic 
impacts, and
    (g) Intervening to reduce wildlife mortality;
    (4) Enhance HAB response and ensure socially responsible 
development and effective implementation of PCM by
    (a) Measuring social and economic costs of HABs and their impacts 
and the costs and benefits of HAB PCM,
    (b) Improving communication strategies and approaches for 
facilitating changes in human behavior/attitudes, and
    (c) Improving coordination of researchers, decision-makers, and 
stakeholders in implementing PCM research.
    The PCM HAB program will be a competitive, peer-reviewed program 
that supports projects in three stages. In the Development phase 
research will advance and evaluate unproven but promising PCM 
technologies and strategies. The Demonstration phase will test, 
validate and evaluate new technologies in the field across a broad 
temporal and spatial scale. Finally, the Technology/Information 
Transfer phase will facilitate the transition of technologies and 
strategies to end-user application. PCM HAB projects will be typically 
2-3 years in duration. Proposals for projects can be submitted for any 
phase. A single proposal can cover one or more phases, depending on the 
magnitude of the project. All projects must specify the phase or phases 
of the research to be conducted for the project period and outline how 
additional phases will be conducted. End-users, including local, state, 
and Federal resource and public health managers, nonprofit 
organizations, and a variety of businesses, must be identified and will 
normally be involved in all three stages. Projects in the Technology 
Transfer phase will also need to have end-user support secured either 
for long-term operations or the application of the developed tool or 
technology.

III. Definition of Existing National Competitive ECOHAB and MERHAB 
Programs

A. ECOHAB

    With the addition of the new PCM HAB program, ECOHAB is retaining 
the focus that was originally identified in ECOHAB, the Ecology and 
Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (1995)\6\, as updated by Harmful 
Algal Research and Response: A National Environmental Science Strategy 
(HARRNESS) 2005-2015 (2005)\7\.
    The goals of ECOHAB are to develop:
    1. Quantitative understanding of HABs and, where applicable, their 
toxins in relation to the surrounding environment with the intent of 
developing new information and tools, predictive models and forecasts, 
and prevention strategies to aid managers in coastal environments; and
    2. Understanding leading to models of trophic transfer of toxins, 
knowledge of biosynthesis and metabolism of toxins, and assessment of 
impacts of toxins on higher trophic levels. Research results will be 
used directly to guide management of coastal resources to reduce HAB 
development, impacts, and future threats and will feed into other HAB 
programs for development of tools to improve HAB management and 
response.

[[Page 20467]]

    In order to meet the stated goals, research will be conducted in 
the following areas:
    1. Developing methods for HAB cell and toxin detection that are 
necessary for the conduct of research on understanding the causes and 
dynamics of HABs and HAB impacts on higher trophic levels;
    2. Understanding the factors controlling HAB growth and toxicity by 
focusing on harmful algal genetics, physiology, and toxin production;
    3. Understanding community ecology and ecosystem dynamics, 
including top-down and bottom-up control of HABs;
    4. Delineating the biosynthetic pathways and metabolism of toxins;
    5. Determining the trophic transfer of toxins within food webs and 
the impacts of toxins on individual organisms and food webs;
    ECOHAB is a NOAA-led interagency, peer-reviewed, competitive 
program that funds regional-scale studies and targeted studies. 
Regional ecosystem investigations of the causes and impacts of HABs 
leading to development of model-based operational ecological 
forecasting capabilities in areas with severe, recurrent blooms are a 
high priority. These can be either in new areas, areas that have been 
studied previously but where new or unanswered questions remain, or 
involve comparisons between ecosystems. Conducted by multi-
disciplinary, multi-institutional teams, they are typically 3-5 years 
in duration. Targeted studies are conducted by individual or small 
groups of investigators for 2-3 years and address fundamental 
ecological and oceanographic questions related to HAB events.

B. MERHAB

    MERHAB is guided by the recommendations in Harmful Algal Research 
and Response: A National Environmental Science Strategy (HARRNESS) 
2005-2015 (2005)\7\ and its development was shaped by findings in 
Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms: A Research 
Plan (2001)\4\, and Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Waters: Options for 
Prevention, Control, and Mitigation (1997)\5\. The need for a 
comprehensive effort devoted to HAB monitoring is also provided by HAB 
RDDTT National Workshop Report: A Plan for Reducing HABs and HAB 
Impacts (2008)\1\.
    The principal goal of MERHAB is to build capacity of local, state, 
and tribal governments, and the private sector, for less costly and 
more precise and comprehensive monitoring of HAB cells and toxins, and 
for responding to HAB events. Improved monitoring and event response 
capability will be achieved through
    1. Development and management application of faster, less expensive 
and more reliable detection methods for HAB cells and toxins;
    2. Development and management application of instrumentation for 
low-cost, long-term observations of conditions that influence HAB 
dynamics;
    3. Application of improved monitoring strategies and forecast 
models to enhance early warning capability, foster improved response to 
HAB events, and demonstrate operational capabilities
    MERHAB is a NOAA competitive, peer-reviewed program that funds 
regional-scale and targeted studies. Regional projects are multi-
disciplinary, multi-institutional efforts of 3-5 years duration that 
promote sustainable, incentive-based partnerships with a broad spectrum 
of stakeholders, including multiple Federal agencies and state, 
academic, tribal, and local entities. Regional-scale projects must 
include management end-users as part of the partnership. Targeted 
projects address specific needs to improve HAB monitoring and response, 
typically last for 2-3 years, and are often smaller in scale and scope. 
All projects must have a clear and ready management application, and 
include identification of management end-users.

IV. Guidance for Submitting Proposals to ECOHAB, MERHAB, and PCM HAB

    Several research topics may fit more than one HAB program. Further, 
there are some topics that are more appropriate for other NOAA programs 
or programs in other agencies. The following section (A.) lists 
examples of appropriate programs for different components of 
potentially overlapping topics. Examples of topics which are not 
applicable to any of these three programs are provided in Section B. 
However, when considering the development of a proposal, investigators 
are strongly advised to consult with the HAB program managers 
designated in the request for proposals to determine the appropriate 
program.

A. Examples of Appropriate Research Topics for Each Program

    1. Developing methods of measuring and monitoring HAB cells and 
toxins. The purpose of the research and the stage of development will 
determine which program is appropriate.
    (a) ECOHAB will fund method development when it is necessary to 
conduct research.
    (b) MERHAB will fund method development when it is needed to 
improve or test an existing method for use in monitoring HAB cells or 
toxins or environmental conditions that foster HABs.
    (c) PCM HAB Phase 1 will fund novel method development where the 
concept is so new that it is unknown whether it will be suitable for 
research or monitoring.
    (d) PCM HAB will also fund efforts to make existing technologies 
more widely available.
    2.Use of models for forecasting and prediction
    (a) HAB forecasting and prediction through the development of 
models, is covered by the ECOHAB program.
    (b) Development of partnerships to test and utilize models for 
forecasting as part of specific monitoring programs is under the 
purview of MERHAB.
    (c) Transfer of models for HAB forecasting and prediction to end 
users will be covered by PCM HAB.
    (d) Modification or use of models to develop prevention strategies 
will be funded by PCM HAB.
    3. HAB-related human dimensions research will be conducted as part 
of the PCM HAB program, including socio-economic impacts of HABs. 
However, an ECOHAB or a MERHAB proposal may have a socio-economic 
component as part of a larger study.

B. Examples of Non-Applicable Research Topics

    1. Prevention of HABs by implementation of nutrient reductions or 
hydrodynamic modifications is a possible strategy, but numerous other 
programs in other agencies address implementation issues. PCM HAB will 
not fund, for example, research to develop new methods of nutrient 
removal or develop land use practices that may reduce nutrient inputs. 
However, if actual nutrient reductions or hydrodynamic changes are 
implemented, PCM HAB may fund research to monitor and model the 
consequences of those activities if they will be transferable to other 
situations.
    2. Disease surveillance, clinical characterization, and therapeutic 
guidance in humans are the purview of other programs within NOAA, such 
as NOAA OHHI, and other agencies, such as NSF/NIEHS COHH, CDC and FDA.
    3. Drinking water monitoring and treatment is under the purview of 
EPA.

V. Establishment of a Regional Rotation for ECOHAB, MERHAB, and PCM HAB 
Programs

    Funding competitions for the three national HAB programs, ECOHAB,

[[Page 20468]]

MERHAB, and PCM HAB, will be rotated on a regional basis in order to 
address programmatic needs and make more efficient use of resources. 
The need for a regional approach to addressing marine problems was 
emphasized in An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century \8\ and America's 
Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change \9\. In response, 
Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next 
Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation 
Strategy\10\ and Advancing NOAA's Priorities through Regional 
Collaboration \11\ recommend Federal agencies and NOAA take a regional 
approach. The 2004 Reauthorization of HABHRCA also acknowledged the 
need for a regional approach to HAB research and response by 
establishing a procedure for requesting Regional Assessments of HABs. 
In addition the regional rotation will make more efficient use of the 
funding available for the large, regional ecosystem-scale studies 
frequently funded by these programs and facilitate the proposal review 
process.
    Each year every region will be eligible to submit funding proposals 
to one of the three HAB programs. Regional eligibility will rotate 
annually on a three year cycle, as described in the following table.

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             Regional Group                           Geographic Regions                       Year 1                  Year 2               Year 3
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1                                                                  Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean/Pacific IsMERHAB                    ECOHAB               PCM HAB
2                                                                             West Coast, Alaska, Great LakeECOHAB               PCM HAB         MERHAB
3                                             South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of                         PCM HAB         MERHAB                    ECOHAB
                                                                              Maine
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    The geographic region signifies where the HAB occurs, where the 
field work will be conducted, and/or where the benefit of the research 
will accrue. The location of the investigator(s) is not a determining 
factor. In cases where the choice of region is ambiguous, investigators 
are advised to consult with the appropriate Program Manager prior to 
submitting a letter of intent. Both regional-scale and targeted ECOHAB 
and MERHAB proposals will be accepted in the funding competitions held 
for each geographic region. Regional-scale proposals can extend between 
Geographic Regions in the same Regional Group (e.g. a regional-scale 
proposal can extend between the South Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic--both 
Group 3), but not between different Groups (e.g. the South Atlantic--
Group 3, and Gulf of Mexico--Group 1) without prior approval of the 
Program Manager.
    Most of the boundaries between regions listed in the table are 
self-evident. However, the boundary between the Gulf of Mexico and 
South Atlantic is set at Jupiter, FL in order to group together HABs 
associated with coral reefs that occur in both the Gulf of Mexico and 
the southeast coast of Florida. However, all proposals concerning 
primarily Karenia species will be submitted to competitions for the 
Gulf of Mexico, even if they occur on the Atlantic coast.
    Some projects may not readily fit into a regional context. For 
example, a project may compare regions, involve many species, have a 
national scope, or be independent of a particular region. Investigators 
proposing projects that do not clearly fit any one region must have 
approval of the Program Manager.

VI. Procedural Information

    A combined Request for Proposals for all three programs will be 
published approximately annually, depending on availability of funds. 
It will specify the regional rotations for that year and provide 
guidance on areas of particular agency interest. Letters of intent will 
be due a month later and full proposals will be due in three months. 
Once initiated, the order of regional rotation will be maintained.
    Investigators will be strongly encouraged to submit non-binding, 
brief letters of intent (LOI) for all three programs. The purpose of 
the LOI process is to provide information to potential applicants on 
the relevance of their proposed project to the HAB program for which it 
is being submitted, prior to submitting a full proposal. Full proposals 
will be encouraged only for LOIs deemed relevant. LOIs may be submitted 
by e-mail, mail, or fax and will be due one month after the request for 
proposals for the three HAB programs is published. They will be 
reviewed by Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) HAB 
Program Managers to determine whether the proposed project is 
responsive in terms of region and subject matter for each program and 
the eligibility of the recipients to receive funds. An LOI response 
will be sent back to the investigator encouraging or discouraging a 
full proposal. The investigator will not be precluded from submitting a 
full proposal regardless of the LOI response. The LOI and associated 
communications will not be shared with mail or Panel reviewers, and 
will not be a factor in the decisional process.
    Separate proposal review panels will be held for each program. The 
panel expertise will reflect the focus of each specific program and the 
range of proposals that have been submitted. Proposals for the three 
phases of the PCM HAB program will be considered by the same panel.

VII. References

    1. Dortch, Q., Anderson, D., Ayres, D., and Glibert, P., editors, 
2008. Harmful Algal Bloom Research, Development, Demonstration and 
Technology Transfer: A National Workshop Report. Woods Hole 
Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, MA. (http://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=43464&pt=10&p=19132)
    2. Jewett, E.B., Lopez, C.B., Dortch, Q., Etheridge, S.M., Backer, 
L.C., 2008. Harmful Algal Bloom Management and Response: Assessment and 
Plan. Interagency Working Group on Harmful Algal Blooms, Hypoxia and 
Human Health of the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology. 
Washington, DC, 76 pp. (http://ocean.ceq.gov/about/docs/jsost_hab0908.pdf )
    3. Bauer, M.(ed.). 2006. Harmful Algal Research and Response: A 
Human Dimensions Strategy. National Office for Marine Biotoxins and 
Harmful Algal Blooms. Woods Hole, MA: Woods Hole Oceanographic 
Institution, 72 pp. (http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/stressors/extremeevents/hab/HDstrategy.pdf)
    4. Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms: A 
Research Plan, 2001. NOAA National Sea Grant College Program, 28pp. 
(http://www.whoi.edu/science/B/redtide/pertinentinfo/PCM_HAB_Research_Plan)
    5. Boesch, D.F., Anderson, D.M., Horner, R.A., Shumway, S.E., 
Tester, P.A. and Whitledge, T.E. 1997. Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal 
Waters: Options for Prevention, Control, and Mitigation. NOAA/COP/
Decision Analysis Series No.10. Silver Spring, MD: NOAA Coastal Ocean 
Office, 61 pp. (http://www.cop.noaa.gov/pubs/das/das10.pdf)
    6. Anderson, D.M. 1995. ECOHAB, the Ecology and Oceanography of 
Harmful

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Algal Blooms. Woods Hole, MA: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 
(http://www.whoi.edu/redtide/nationplan/ECOHAB/ECOHABhtml.html)
    7. Harmful Algal Research and Response: A National Environmental 
Science Strategy (HARRNESS) 2005-2015. 2005. Ecological Society of 
America, Washington, D.C. (http://www.cop.noaa.gov/stressors/extremeevents/hab/current/harrness.html )
    8. U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, 2004. An Ocean Blueprint for 
the 21st Century. Final Report. Washington, DC, 2004 (http://www.oceancommission.gov/documents/full_color_rpt/welcome.html)
    9. Pew Oceans Commission, 2003. America's Living Oceans: Charting a 
Course for Sea Change. Summary Report. Pew Oceans Commission, 
Arlington, Virginia. (http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Protecting_ocean_life/POC_Summary.pdf)
    10. NSTC Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, 2007. 
Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next 
Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy 
(http://ocean.ceq.gov/about/sup_jsost_prioritiesplan.html)
    11. NOAA Program Planning & Integration, 2007. Advancing NOAA's 
Priorities through Regional Collaboration (http://www.ppi.noaa.gov/Regional_Collaboration/Regional_Collaboration_Overview_041307.pdf)

    Dated: April 23, 2009.
Christopher Cartwright,
Chief Financial Officer, Ocean Service and Coastal Zone Management.
[FR Doc. E9-10187 Filed 5-1-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-JS-S