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Government to Fish Out Harmful Algae

The Government is about to embark on an ambitious campaign to protect its near-shore waters from poisonous algae, also known as red tide.

Yi Xiaolei, an official with the State Oceanographic Bureau, said the government plans to install an early warning system to monitor algae growth and provide disaster relief during an outbreak.

He said such a system would be ready within five to seven years.

China's 18,000-kilometre-long coastline has been under constant attack from red tide.

Delegates to the Second International Conference on Harmful Algae Management and Mitigation (HAMM), held in Qingdao, a coastal city in East China's Shandong Province, discussed ways of tackling the red tide.

Red tide refers to a population explosion of algae that releases poison, killing sea life in coastal waters.

The ocean bureau established a national marine monitoring system last year which is composed of satellites, planes, ships, and permanent monitoring stations on the shore.

The bureau is now working to improve the process of obtaining data from the monitoring system so as to provide more accurate forecasts in the future.

A pilot project by the Qingdao-based North China Sea Branch reported that just 60 per cent of its 35 red tide three-day forecasts last summer were accurate.

The State Council is expected to pass specific regulations to provide a legal basis for the prevention, monitoring, and disaster relief of red tide.

Advanced scientific studies on harmful algae have also been authorized.

Zhu Mingyuan, a marine biologist with the Qingdao-based First Institute of Oceanography, said the government has included algae research in the National Basic Research Priority Programme for the first time.

The workshop - initiated by the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) in 1999 - is designed to study the negative impact of red tide on humans and offer policy makers solutions.

Zhu, who is also a member of the workshop's International Steering Committee, said China's hosting of this year's conference demonstrates the country's continuing dedication to solving its algae problem.

About 160 experts from 23 countries and regions attended the five-day conference.

(China Daily November 14,2001

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