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Friday November 04, 2011 | 01:37 PM

The federal government awarded the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences a $201,187 grant to help fund a three-year project looking into the best ways for early detection of the harmful algal blooms also known as red tides, said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded the money to the school as part of a national grant competition. It is the first installment of what is expected to be a total $574,000 grant over three years to study early detection methods for red tides off Maine’s coastline, according to Snowe and  Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd.

Meanwhile, a bill authored by Snowe to renew the federal government’s overall algal blooms research program was approved this week by the Senate Commerce Committee. Snowe is the top Republican on the commerce committee’s oceans, atmosphere, fisheries and Coast Guard subcommittee. Snowe’s bill had bipartisan backing, including from Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Red tide blooms can lead to harmful toxins building up in shellfish, which can force fishery managers to close shellfish beds.

“The technological advances made by research like this, along with continued funding for shellfish monitoring programs, will ensure that our state’s hardworking harvesters have all the tools at their disposal to ensure the continued success of this vital fishery,” Snowe said in a statement.

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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