Red tide not on the horizon, Fujairah fishermen say

The red tide is a natural phenomenon caused by a microscopic organism called phytoplankton. It lasts for several days and kills fish and other marine life.

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FUJAIRAH // No signs of the treacherous algae bloom known as the red tide have been seen in east coast waters, say fishermen, in contrast to recent reports.

The red tide is a natural phenomenon caused by a microscopic organism called phytoplankton. It lasts for several days and kills fish and other marine life.

The increasing concentration of nutrients such as phosphate, silicate, ammonia and nitrite in the sea water can cause the red tide, as too can a significant change in water temperature, ocean currents and sunlight, according to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment website.

The head of Dibba Fishermen Association said his fishermen had not seen the red tide, even though there were reports on Sunday that fishermen from Khor Fakkan had spotted an area of it some 300 metres wide and 3 metres deep about 30 nautical miles off Sharm Al Debba.

“The water is being monitored by the ministry and if they suspect anything they would have informed us immediately,” said Suleiman Al Khuddam.

“This is a serious thing that can affect the fishing process and the fishermen as many fish will die because of it.”

Khor Fakkan Fishermen Association had also denied that the red tide is present.

“No one has reported anything regarding the red tide; if it occurred, we should have known about it,” said Salah Abdullah, head of the association.

“The fishermen didn’t spot anything as the water colour would change and they would have noticed it.”

A red tide in 2008 lasted for nearly a year and affected large parts of coastline throughout the Gulf, suffocating coral reefs and harming fisheries. This year, a much smaller bloom has already dissipated and poses no further threat.

One of the fishermen in Dibba said that it affected the area several years ago and they stopped fishing for about 10 days.

“It causes a foul odour and the colour of the water will change to red or brown. All the fishermen know how it looks and they know that it’s dangerous as it kills the fish and the marine life,” said Hussain Al Dhanhani, 55.

The ministry has recently developed a national red tide contingency plan as part of its efforts to reduce the phenomenon’s impact. The plan involves an early warning system and instructions on how to minimise its effects on desalination plants.

rhaza@thenational.ae

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