The Chinese government has warned people not to eat fish caught in an area of the East China Sea because of a ‘red tide’ of toxic algae.

The algae, which contain paralysing toxins, are covering an area larger than 1.3 million football pitches off the island of Zhoushan Dao, south of Shanghai, reported the Independent.

Besides being potentially dangerous to humans, the algae are a threat to the fishing industry as they can lead to the death of aquatic life in the affected area. Red tides such as this are caused by algae feeding on pollution from sewage, fertiliser, car emissions and industrial waste, the newspaper said.