Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have become an important subdiscipline within oceanography. Heightened attention to this topic as well as significant research advances reflect the global nature of the problem and the development of strong national and international programs for HAB research and management. The planning, communication, coordination, and capacity-building activities of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) have been a key factor in this growth. Here, we highlight selected advances in science and management capacity for HABs and document the impressive growth of the field in the context of activities supported directly or indirectly by IOC. As we look to the future, the field has significant momentum and stability. Nevertheless, it will require scientific guidance and coordination going forward. With an appropriate commitment of resources from member states, the IOC HAB program can continue to be a major factor in the sustained growth of this important scientific discipline and its delivery of improved observation and management systems.
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