Ghost fish nets around Hong Kong – still killing

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    email from Kay:

    I have been trying to understand more of the illegal acts of massive fishing around HK sea area. In fact, in early April, I have been able to complete my PADI Open Water Diving Certificate and I am now able to actually get into the water and see for myself of what destruction and massive pollution that illegal fishermen have frequently done to harm the environment.

    During Easter, I was fortunate enough to go diving at Kenting, Taiwan. Visability was around 20 metres (according to some other friends who went diving on other days, they found visability to be even better, around 25 metres) while I dived around Kiu Tsui Island and
    and Shelter Island, visability was only around 5-8 metres (really can see big difference, water was quite polluted in HK). Last Sunday, went to Bik Sha Wan, Sai Kung for snorkelling — garbage was everywhere, there were fish nets and one of our friends’ fin nearly got caught by one of them (the fish nets covered a great area such that any pre-mature marine creatures esp. fish will definitely be caught in those humungous nets)!!!! There were also some “used” nets and apparently illegal fishermen were not “considerate” enough to remove their used nets from the sea after they used it to catch preys they don’t even need!

    I was actually quite shocked to see so many used nets! These people are not only destroying the habitats of many marine creatures, killing massive no. of fish under sea and created many many inconvenience for divers and snorkellers who wishes to appreciate the beauty of nature.

    Although HK seems to be widely polluted and fish population is becoming less and less, I was told that the no. of fish around Kenting (Taiwan) is becoming lessened by massive fishing by thrawling (this is a common method in the further water areas beyond shore). Destructive fishing seems to be a problem for many cities, not just Hong Kong.

    Have you been diving around Hong Kong? It is definitely a waste to see coral reefs destroyed because of fish bombs and especially do not want to see fish species extinct. Marine conservation should definitely be taught since primary education.

    Just some thoughts over the last few visits to the sea. I anticipate to join more of the cleaning sea events and go snorkelling around HK sea areas to understand more of the destroys these inconsiderate individuals are “creating”.

    Charles Frew replied:

    Sadly gill nets are all too familiar underwater. Most of the time fishermen snag the nets on coral outcrops and either leave them on the seabed or upturn the coral colony.
    I hear Easter in HK was quite windy, which may explain the low visibility.
    Be very careful when dealing with gill nets as they can easily entangle a diver; make sure you carry some scissors so that you can cut yourself free.
    Keep AFCD posted of your findings and see if you can set up a relationship with them.

    As far as fishnets and generally discarded rubbish goes. HK has improved in the last 20yrs. Yes, I know that is astounding when considered with many overseas spots. HK is filthy but still cleaner than it was. Air pollution excluded. As far as visibility goes, there was a time when even in areas like Clearwaterbay you could expect no more than 3-4m as a year-round average. I know I virtually lived on a beach there in my teens. When I go back today, I get similar conditions on a bad day. But often it’s surprisingly clear (up to 10m).
    I’m not denying anyones observations, far from it I’m agreeing with them. But looking back, I can see improvement. Probably more due to overfishing and losing our manufacturing, rather than any positive action.
    I will say that I have seen some bad water quality in my time, and the worst ones seem clearer in my memory. Perhaps because though local pollution has decreased, the surrounding areas have gotten much worse. And if we get a whiff of it now and again water visibility goes down to virtually zero in some places.
    Generally though my recent forays back to the ocean were pleasanter than in my youth. The ocean (and you afterwards) doesn’t smell like an ocean, but it doesn’t smell like a factory anymore either.


      I think you a good men my friend.
      “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess”—Red Green

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