Some 1,500 tonne of the territory's farmed fish have been killed due to a "red tide" of toxic algae. A few months back, Hong Kong's entire chicken population was slaughtered amid a scare over lethal "chicken flu". Now, the dying fish is causing further environmental blow to the region.

Following this, fish farmers have claimed ruin and hefty compensation. Such environmental setbacks have also threatened Hong Kong's image as a tourist destination. Joseph Sham of the agriculture and fisheries department says, "This is the most serious red tide I have known." With the harbour-side, stench of dead fish and the closure of several popular beaches are underlining the severity of the problem.

The government officials say that the lethal bloom of algae is a natural phenomenon across the world's oceans. Environmental groups, however, opine that pollution and deteriorating environmental conditions have led to the problem.

"Pollution contributes to the blooming of red tides, particularly large tides of long duration, like this one," says Cheng Luk-ki campaign coordinator of Friends of the Earth in Hong Kong. He says that algae thrive on nutrients provided by sewage and other effluents. Some politicians have criticised the deterioration in the territory's air and water quality.

Fish farmers feel that the government should have provided earlier warnings about the fish carnage. According to them, if appropriate measures are not taken, the industry will collapse

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