A group of 15 researchers gathered for 2 days in September to attend the 3rd international workshop for the detection of harmful algal blooms BEACONS working group. BEACONS is a unique collaboration between the United States, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The BEACONS project aims to develop novel strategies for the isolation and detection of harmful microbes from both seawater (Alexandrium) and freshwater (Microcystis) as well as their associated toxins. It harnesses the substantial complementary expertise of the international partners and their Institutions to address a problem that has world-wide implications for human health and aquatic related industries. In Maine, the alga Alexandrium is commonly called red tide and is responsible for extensive closures of shellfish harvests. Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) caused by consumption of shellfish that have fed on the toxic alga Alexandrium remains a major health concern throughout North American coastal areas. As increasing numbers of people live in immediate proximity to the ocean, the risk of exposure to this natural hazard also grows. Microcystis contains toxins that are increasingly found reservoirs and lakes used for drinking water. The consortium of partners assembled as a result of the U.S.-Ireland Partnership initiative, has complementary expertise in sample handling, marine and fresh water environmental research, assay development using antibodies, peptide nucleic acids and receptors/channels, microfluidics, sensor assay generation and associated applications. Lectures and discussion groups were held to update current sensor development work in progress, as well as to establish new relationships and develop future collaborations. Dr. Laurie Connell from the School of Marine Sciences acted as host for the group.