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Red tide ebbs in Guangdong
( 2003-12-11 00:19) (China Daily)

A massive poisonous algae bloom, or red tide, which hit the sea near Shantou, a city in South China's Guangdong Province, has been receding, sources with the local ocean and fishery authorities said Wednesday.

Thanks to strong, cold winds, the area affected by the red tide has reduced from 400-550 square kilometres one month ago to less than 100 square kilometres at present, according to Liao Zhaoxin, an official from the Shantou Ocean and Fishery Bureau.

The red tide, an explosive propagation of algae, was caused by an excessive proliferation of phaeocystic aquatic plants. It consumes too much oxygen from the water and releases poisonous substances that kill sea life but bring no harm to human beings.

The red tide has already dealt a fatal blow to laver (a type of seaweed) farming and the fishing industry around Mayu Island, the major affected area, he said.

Almost all laver farming facilities were forced to stop production and the estimated economic loss will reach almost 2.5 million yuan (US$300,000) in the area, he revealed.

In addition, some fish and shrimps were found dead or dying outside Shantou port.

But he added the total economic loss is expected to be low since the red tide did not occur in the major ocean fishing and aquaculture areas.

The red tide mainly affected a 15 nautical mile area along the coastline outside Shantou port.

The State Oceanic Administration has organized a work team together with Guangdong and Shantou ocean and fishery bureaux to conduct research into the causes of the red tide and ways to get rid of it, according to Liao.

But he added the receding red tide will stick around for a period of time if there are no heavy rains or strong cold wind over the affected sea area. The heavy rain and cold winds could reduce the density of the accumulated algae.

Statistics show altogether 157 red tides have happened in the last decade in China, and the Shantou sea area was affected by the algae bloom in 1997.

"To date, we found no way to stop red tides, but we can monitor potentially susceptible areas and try to control the outbreaks,'' said Wang Huajie, an official from Guangdong Ocean and Fishery Bureau.

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