Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
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AFCD conducts exercise to test red tide outbreak response
Monday, November 6, 2017
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) carried out an exercise from October 31 till today (November 6) to review the department's preparedness in combating red tide or harmful algal bloom (HAB) causing fish kill in Hong Kong.
About 35 staff members of the Food and Health Bureau, the AFCD, the Marine Department, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Environmental Protection Department, the Department of Health, the Water Supplies Department and the Hong Kong Observatory took part in the exercise, which followed a hypothetical scenario involving the detection of a potentially toxic algal species, which is harmful to fish, at densities above the normal level in one of the fish culture zones in Hong Kong, triggering the "Alert" mode of response under the Red Tide/HAB Contingency Plan. The exercise was conducted in two parts, namely a Table-top Exercise and a Hands-on Exercise.
The Table-top Exercise tested the effectiveness of information exchange and dissemination among relevant government departments, the mariculturists concerned, and members of the Red Tide Expert Advisory Group (RTEAG), in response to red tide or HAB. The Hands-on Exercise, on the other hand, examined personnel mobilisation and equipment deployment on tackling such conditions among relevant departments, the effectiveness of risk assessment, and preparedness for possible large-scale fish kill and raft relocation.
In the case of red tide caused by algal species potentially toxic to fish, the AFCD will alert mariculturists in the fish culture zones concerned to take appropriate mitigation measures, and conduct phone interviews with mariculturist representatives of the zones concerned to assess fish conditions and request them to hoist red flags. The AFCD will also step up phytoplankton monitoring and arrange site investigation for collecting samples from all fish culture zones to assess the extent of the bloom. A press release will also be issued to update the public on the situation of the red tide. Expert advice on risk assessment and management will be sought from the RTEAG where necessary.
The spokesman of the AFCD said, "Red tide is a natural phenomenon. Even with present-day technology, there is no measure to prevent the occurrence of red tides. As such, stepping up surveillance for early detection of red tides and timely issue of warnings remain the most practicable management method.
"In case there is HAB, immediate and effective response from the AFCD, relevant departments and mariculturists could minimise possible loss associated with the incident. We are prepared to tackle such conditions and will provide assistance to mariculturists whenever necessary."
More information on red tide is available in the department's website: www.afcd.gov.hk/english/fisheries/hkredtide/redtide.html.
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Last Review Date : 06 November 2017