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February 23, 2010

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Fish enlisted in algae fight

AUTHORITIES in Zhejiang Province began releasing algae-eating fish yesterday into Taihu Lake, China's third largest freshwater lake, to curb rampant algae growth.

In the next few days more than 20 million fish, mainly silver carp fry, will go into the 2,400-square-kilometer lake in Huzhou in Zhejiang, as well as in Suzhou, Changzhou and Wuxi in neighboring Jiangsu Province, said Lin Jianhua, director of the Taihu Lake Fishing Administration.

A silver carp weighing 1.5-2kg can consume 50kg of algae during its lifetime. Many of the fish were expected to be of that weight by September, Lin said.

The local government began to use silver carp to clean the lake last February after blue-green algae choked the lake in 2007 as a result of pollution. The algae affected the drinking water of 17 million residents, Lin said.

"The fish and shrimp we caught in recent years weighed much less and were smaller than before," said Qian Fenglin, a 42-year-old fisherman.

The algae-eating fish were bought with government funds and public donations.

By Sunday, people in Shanghai and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces had donated about 600,000 yuan (US$87,800), which bought 1 million silver carp fry.

The donation campaign was initiated on January 20 by 20 media organizations.

"When I was young, Taihu Lake was clean. But its water quality deteriorated several years ago," said Zhao Meizhen, a 90-year-old retired teacher who bought 500 fry from Shanghai.


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