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Tons of dead fish wash up on Taiwan beaches

Volunteers gather dead fish on a beach in Penghu yesterday. Tonnes of fish died in Penghu waters because of the cold weather.

Tons of fish, from carp to exotic tropical specimens, have washed up dead along 320 km of beach on Taiwan's outlying islands because of cold temperatures. About 45 tons of fish, some wild and some farmed, appeared on the tourism-dependent Penghu Island archipelago in the Taiwan Strait from February 14 following a cold snap. 10 times that amount of dead fish was still in the water, making it THE WORST MASS KILLING OFF PENGHU IN 30 YEARS. "Every beach in Penghu has been hit with fish in varying amounts. THIS IS SOMETHING WE HAVEN'T SEEN BEFORE." Temperatures dipped below 9 degrees Celsius for three days in early February, UNUSUALLY low for subtropical Penghu. That weather came along with snow storms in nearby China.

It could take years for the industry to fully recover. And as the temperature begins to rise, the high nutrient levels in the water could cause algal blooms, which could lead to a red tide, with toxins from the algae contaminating marine life and posing a hazard to human health. The recent cold weather - UNSEEN SINCE 1978 - might have seriously affected as many as 300 fish species. The cold spell has killed more than 1,500 tonnes, or over 80%, of the fish yields in the county's net cage fish farms, with losses totaling more than US$5.75 million. If shellfish are included, the total damage is estimated to exceed 3,000 tonnes.

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