BOFFINS have developed a cheap, safe and effective method of dealing with harmful algae blooms that kill millions of fish every year.
Trials last summer by a team from the John Innes Centre and the University of East Anglia showed that hydrogen peroxide – used to dye hair blonde – was effective against the ‘golden algae’ Prymnesium parvum.
It is on the verge of being introduced following successful field and lab tests.
‘Golden algae’ are a group of different species that are responsible for thousands of fish kills worldwide each year.
In 2015, the River Thurne and Hickling Broads saw tens of thousands of fish die including lots of specimen pike to over 30 lb from an algae bloom but quick-thinking work from the EA (pictured above) saw 700,000 fish saved and relocated.
Algae are clearly a threat to the £550 million economy of the Broads National Park in Norfolk and Suffolk where trials have been taking place.
Lab tests have now demonstrated that controlled doses of the versatile chemical compound could be even more effective in dealing with cyanobacteria. Commonly known as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria represents a major public health hazard.
Algae blooms can be ‘easily’ managed
Dr Ben Wagstaff, one of the authors of the study, said: “We’ve demonstrated that the use of hydrogen peroxide is a practical, relatively easy way of managing these blooms.
“Work has already started to put together protocols for the use of hydrogen peroxide to control Prymnesium and our research showed that blue green algae are even more susceptible.
“You can potentially use even lower doses to wipe out blue-green blooms,” he added.
Steve Lane, fisheries technical specialist at the Environment Agency which is helping to implement the research, said: “It is really exciting how scientists, fishery managers, the angling community and partners have worked together and made such important progress to tackle the algae.
“These are a serious threat to the multi-million-pound angling economy of the Broads.
“We are now working hard to make sure that we can use hydrogen peroxide to help manage future incidents, guided by the wonderful world-leading work that has taken place right here in Norwich,” Steve concluded.
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