[EDITORIALS]Stamp Out This Man-Made Scourge

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[EDITORIALS]Stamp Out This Man-Made Scourge

Damage due to the spread of "red tide" is rising. The algae bloom that started in the southern coastal area has spread northward toward the coast of North Kyongsang province, carried by the ocean currents and encouraged to flourish by the hot weather. The Yeongdeok area in North Kyongsang province issued a warning against red tide. Fishermen are anxious about this phenomenon, which has painted 250 miles of southeast seawater red in the last 15 days since first appearing in the middle of this month.

There were 85 cases of damage totaling 76 billion won ($58 million) nationwide in 1995 due to red tide. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries estimates that red tide has caused 2 billion won of damage so far, and that amount is feared to grow bigger. Red tide, poisonous algae, is caused by the influx of polluted water into the sea. Red tide occurs frequently in July and August after the rainy spell, which sweeps away inland garbage. Steps taken so far have been to sprinkle sand and stir the seawater near marine farms.

Red tide is a disaster caused by human pollution of seawater. Since Korea's water quality management is concentrated around water supply sources for major cities, the rate of sewage management is 70 percent nationwide but the rate is only around 30 percent in South Cholla and Kyongsang provinces. Water quality management in the coastal areas is laid aside. Many marine product farms are densely located in the southern coastal areas, another reason for the increased damage. For instance, 1 million fish cultivated in the marine farms in Tongyeong, South Kyongsang province have been killed.

The government's will to cope with red tide is needed. In Japan, there were 300 cases of red tide in the inland sea Seto, near Tokyo, during the 1970s. However the cases fell by two thirds after the Japanese government controlled emissions of pollutants by a special law. The government should expand sewage disposal facilities in the coastal areas and fish farms should be cleaned thoroughly. Closing down marine farms for alternate periods of time should be considered. The government should consider providing financial support for the fishing industry in areas afflicted with this man-made scourge.

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