Red alert

Published: Tuesday 15 June 2004

The 'red tide', a densely populated algal bloom, is floating off the coast of China's eastern Yangtze river delta. It is threatening to contaminate seafood in Shanghai and a warning to the effect has been sounded to the residents by the media. The fishing industry in the Zhoushan Island region of the country's Zhejiang province has been warned that crabs, clams and other shellfish caught in the area could be harmful to the health of consumers.

The 10,000-sq km area around the Taizhou Yushan Islands, just outside the mouth of the Yangtze, is the worst hit. The red tide breeds in abundance and suffocates fish by sapping the water of oxygen while producing toxins that can paralyse aquatic life. China's coastal regions have been ravaged by springtime red tides in recent years, especially in the northern Bohai Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

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