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Bohai Sea hit by two colossal red tides
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-15 22:23

Despite the outbreak of two massive red tides, seafood on the on the Chinese market is perfectly safe to eat, State Oceanic Administration Tuesday.

Two giant toxic red tides, also known as algae blooms, hit the Bohai Sea over the weekend, promoting the country's oceanic body to tighten the examination of shell fish along portions of the marine coast.

The Bohai Sea borders Tianjin Municipality in North China, Shandong Province of East China and Liaoning Province in Northeast China.

The first red tide occurred on Friday, and covered about 1,850 square kilometres of sea area on the first day, officials said. It emerged near the mouth of the Yellow River.

The second red tide began on Saturday and blanketed an area of 3,200 kilometres and gathered near the Tianjin Municipality.

"With the help of modern technology, we correctly forecast the occurrence of the red tide in early June," said Chen Lianzeng, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration. "The local authorities along the sea coast have closely monitored the tide's development and carried out the emergency response measures in time."

He added that officials have to safeguard the health of the public by enhancing inspections of shellfish and by helping ocean aquacultural industry workers minimize their losses.

Fishery officials in Tianjin Municipality and East China's Shandong Province took samples at all the shellfish-raising bases in the red tide areas and have not yet found any polluted seafood.

If samples fail to pass the examination, the shellfish harvesting will be shut down immediately.

"All the seafood from the red-tide polluted areas will be strictly examined before entering the market," said Wang Shicheng, a government official who is in charge of ocean and fisheries in Shandong, the country's key fishery production province.

Marine experts said the red tides will continue for several days and are likely to become larger.

Red tides are large algae blooms that can accumulate dangerous levels of the neurotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning and suffocate sea creatures.

China in recent years has been witnessing rising occurrences of red tides. In May alone, Chinese sea areas were hit by 34 red tide outbreaks, affecting a total of more than 10,000 square kilometres, which is 3,000 kilometres more than the same month last year.

According to Ma Deyi, director of National Marine Environment Monitoring Centre, red tides are the "result of worsening human and industrial land pollution that affects sea water and consequently deteriorates oceanic ecology."

In return, the situation creates ideal conditions for toxic algae to proliferate.

China now has set up 33 red tide monitoring zones in sea areas frequently attacked across the country and will monitor red tides in these areas.

Red tide algae are commonly found in many of the world's oceans from April to October. They are fatal to fish and other oceanic animals but serious heath problems for humans are rare. When humans consume the polluted shellfish, they will show symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Last month, a massive red tide covered 8,000 to 10,000 square kilometres of sea areas near Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province, posing great losses to the fishing industry.

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