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Coast prepares for deadly ‘red tide'

Update: August, 20/2012 - 10:23

by Hoai Nam

 

Tourists and locals collect waste on Da Nang beaches. Experts are implementing a plan to cope with poisonous red tides which are expected to occur more frequently as the global climate gets warmer and sea levels rise. — VNA/VNS Photo Le Lam
DA NANG — Biologist Dang Ngoc Minh and his six-member team have spent months mapping out a plan to fight the poisonous red tide (red algae) that occasionally colours kilometres of water along the coast near the central city of Da Nang.

"We hope to raise awaress that the invasions will occur much more frequently as the global climate gets warmer and the sea levels rise," Minh said.

He said Man Quang and Vung Thung bays in Son Tra District were the worst polluted areas. They are home to fishing vessels and sea-food processing plants.

"The environment in these areas is continually polluted with waste from fishing vessels and poor sewage treatment of waste from seafood plants. It's so bad that the stink can be smelled from kilometres away," he said.

Minh said he and his collegues had taken samples of water from polluted areas to help plan for an emergency.

Under their plan, residents will be moved to safe areas if the algae spreads over large areas.

"It's the only way because it's impossible to kill the algae with biological solution," Minh said.

According to biologists, red algae poisons fish and all other life in coastal seas. Those who eat this sea-food can become very ill.

The algae is similar to the green-algae phenomenon in Australia which turns drought affected rivers into green sludge that kills everything. The algae is fed by fertilisers used to grow crops along the rivers.

Minh's team is one of five youth groups in the central city being sponsored by British-based non-government organisation called Challenge to Change which is battling climate change and rising sea levels.

The organisation has provided VND1.2 billion (US$57,000) for 15 initiatives in Da Nang, Quy Nhon and Can Tho to develop programmes over the next 18 months.

The other four initiatives are about farming in flood-hit areas; skills training against disasters; evaluating climate change's impact on the fishery industry and coping with climate changes in Da Nang city.

Nguyen Thi Ut and her group are researching growing plants in water containing nutrients (hydroponics).

She has created a low-cost pilot project for households in Thanh Khe and Hoa Vang districts.

"Households can invest between VND50,000-100,000 ($2.50-$4.70) for a nutrient solution and recycled foam to make a one square metre hanging vegetable garden," said Ut.

"As our first survey, gardeners grew double the amount of vegetables in water than they would have in the same plot of soil. Hydroponics can help people farm in flooded or saline water areas," she said. — VNS

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