Page last updated at 18:53 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 19:53 UK

Fishing stops after algae deaths


Scientists are working to uncover the cause of the fish deaths

Four shellfishing areas are being closed after the deaths of thousands of fish along the coast of Cornwall.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the temporary closure was a sensible precaution after an algal bloom caused fish deaths in St Austell Bay.

More dead fish were washed ashore near Torpoint on Friday. The cause of their deaths is still to be determined.

Shellfishing is being stopped in the St Austell bay, Fal, Fowey, and Helford waterway areas, the FSA said.

An algal bloom, known as Red Tide, is believed to behind the first discovery of dead fish in St Austell Bay on Thursday after water samples were analysed by scientists from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Depletes oxygen

The laboratory said it was continuing to investigate whether the Red Tide bloom posed any public health risk.

The latest discovery was at Tregantle beach at Antony, near Torpoint. Scientists are working to determine the cause of the deaths and see if they are connected to the St Austell incident.

Algae produces toxins which are lethal to fish and shellfish and also depletes oxygen levels which makes it difficult for marine life to breathe.

Cornwall Council said the algae could cause skin irritations and harm pets and advised people to avoid entering water where the algae or any foam was present.

The FSA said the shellfishing bans would be in place until the results of further tests were known.

Shell fishermen have been asked to contact their local port authority for advice.

The Shellfish Association of Great Britain said public health had to come first.

But it added it did not believe the local industry would be too badly affected because the main shellfishing season did not start until the autumn.

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