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Fish attack algae bloom

MILLIONS of algae-eating fish fry are being released into China's third-largest freshwater lake, Taihu, in a campaign to try to stop the blue-green algae bloom.

The 2,400-square-kilometer lake is a major source of drinking water in east China's Jiangsu Province. Blue-green algae choked the lake in 2007, reducing drinking water supplies to 2 million residents in Wuxi City.

About 10 million fish such as silver carp and grass carp will be released, said Lin Jianhua, head of the Taihu Lake Fishing Administration.

He said the campaign, the largest of its kind, will cost 7.4 million yuan (US$1.08 million) in government funds and public donations.

He said sewage pollution had been largely reduced through years of efforts but it was still a problem.

The province spent 5 billion yuan to build 3,500 kilometers of sewage pipes, which had stopped much direct sewage discharge into the Taihu Lake Basin, according to provincial environmental authorities.

More than 170 sewage plants had been built or were under construction in the basin, with a total daily disposal capacity of 4 million tons by the end of 2008.

Lin said the lake administration had also shut down 78 percent of fish-breeding activities, which was a major source of the nitrogen that fed the algae growth.

"The biological treatment using the algae digestion ability of the fish is expected to fundamentally rehabilitate the lake," he said.

He said a silver carp could consume 50 kilograms of algae and plankton in gaining 1kg in weight.


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