Red tides have disastrous consequences for HK marine life and fishermen

The red tides this year have been linked to a massive fish kill in HK waters. Red tides, also called algal blooms, are formed by blooms of microscopic algae. They can occur naturally but they are often linked to pollution, such as phosphates from sewage and fertilisers.

 

As reported by SCMP, "the vice-chairman of the New Territories Fishermen Fraternity Association, Chan Mei-tak, said the scale and severity of the fish deaths was unlike anything he had ever seen and possibly on par with the disaster in 1998, when a red tide killed 80 per cent of the stock at fish farms across Hong Kong."

Since late December, according to SCMP, more than 36 tonnes of fish have died off mariculture zones in Kau Lau Wan, Yim Tin Tsai, Sham Wan, Yung Shue Au, Lo Fu Wat and Tap Mun.

The government has now decided to launch an emergency relief fund as mariculture industry is estimated to have lost more than HK$100 million in a month.

“It is an unprecedented and unnatural disaster,” he said. “The issue isn’t about the dead fish now, it’s about fish farms closing.” Recent storms may also have aggravated the problem as rain flushes nutrients from the land into the sea.

The Environmental Protection Department assured the fishermen that they would keep monitoring the quality of the algae found in the area.

The red tides might be a sign that intense development in and around Hong Kong is increasingly unsustainable.

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