1999-2001, 2001-2004, and 2005-2008
Background: Almost 100 algal species are now known or suspected to produce toxins, and both the frequency, intensity, and geographical distribution of the harmful algal blooms (HAB) appear to have increased over the last few decades. Many blooms have severe ecological and socio-economic impact as they may cause damage or be fatal to other flora and fauna including human beings. Five human syn-dromes are presently caused by consumption of seafood contaminated by algal toxins, and particularly paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) which can be fatal to humans, and ciguatera are widespread in the tropics. Algal toxins accumulated in seafood products are not destroyed by cooking. In addition to serious health risks associated with the consumption of contaminated seafood, some toxic algal species produce hemolytic toxins with devastating effects on fish, both in the wild and in aquacultures with major economic losses for the aquaculture industry. Monitoring and control of algal toxins in seafood is now recognized as an important issue by the authorities in most countries including Vietnam.
International or regional organizations are also conducting activities on, or in relation to, harmful algae and algal toxins in Vietnam and South East Asia, e.g. under the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The activities are in their beginning only, but a regional network of institutions is planned in order to establish common regulations and analysis procedures for seafood safety and algal toxins respectively. NIO is also part of the ASEAN Red Tide Alert Network. In 1999 a cooperation agreement between UNESCO and Vietnam was established, and this identifies as a priority specialized training for scientists in the prevention of harmful algal blooms.
Harmful algae is not only a problem in relation to fisheries resources, but also to the exploitation of surface water reservoirs as drinking water. Blooms of cyanobacteria occur widespread in both temperate and tropical freshwater. These algae may produce both neuro- and hepatotoxins, and the cyanobacterial toxins are now recognized by the environmental authorities in many countries as a human health issue. According to Institute of Tropical Biology, HCMC, 70% of the population of HCMC and surroundings (approx. 8 mill. people) receive their drinking water supply from 3 large freshwater reservoirs. The presence of cyanobacterial toxins in drinking water in Vietnam has not yet been investigated, but cyanobacteria blooms have been recorded in the reservoirs around HCMC.
HABViet Project, Phase 1 1999-2001
During phase I, the involved scientists of all partner institutions have obtained a thorough taxonomic knowledge of harmful algae. With this background, It is planned during phase II to develop different expertise at the different institutions depending on their research interests, capacity, and relevance to a sustainable development and exploitation of natural resources (aqua culture and drinking water). The focus will be as follows:
2) HIO will focus on further development of the taxonomic expertise in order to function as HAB expert centre for the northern part of the country.
3) ITB will maintain the expertise in identification of harmful diatoms together with HUS. ITB will carry out a pilot project to survey the occurrence of potentially toxic blue-green algae in freshwater reservoirs.
4) HUS will cooperate with ITB on identification of harmful diatoms, but focus on curriculum building with emphasis on HAB. Strengthening of the teaching capacity in Hue will enhance the possibilities of educating HAB experts nationally.
HABViet Project, Phase 2 2002-2005
Research strategy, work plan and schedule for activities
Research strategy. The strategy for Phase II will focus on three themes: 1) Survey and Autecological studies. 2) Long term capacity building. 3) Dissemination of results and public awareness.
Phase II thus consists of 3 activity modules:
Survey and Autecological studies, Phase II
* Survey of harmful marine microalgae in two areas identified for aquaculture developmen
* Autecological and toxicological studies of selected toxic algal species.
* Toxin accumulation and de-toxification of selected species of shellfish