HK Take All Marine Zone

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    Letter to SCMP 13 Sept 2007

    Dear Mr. Edward YAU, JP
    Whilst the topic of marine conservation is still very much alive, I would like to continue pushing the relevant Government departments to review their position on the systematic plundering of Hong Kong’s marine resources.

    Within the space of 7 days, a harmless Black tip shark was fished ‘deliberately’ from Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, I observed a Chinese flagged shrimp trawler operating near Kau Sai Chau and saw a group of snorkellers pillaging a popular reef with BBQ tongs, Nemo nets and large tweezers: Welcome to Hong Kong ‘Take All’ Marine Zone.

    On the global stage of marine protection Hong Kong must surely rank at the very bottom. The level of support for marine protection from this Government is minimal, with little evidence of sound management of the marine environment or the promotional sustainable use of our coastline and seas.

    Hong Kong has a unique coastal and marine environment which could provide an important natural resource upon which so many livelihoods and user groups depend. There is a clear need to modernise governance of the marine environment and protect the incredible biodiversity from development that it deserves.

    I strongly urge both the Environmental Bureau and AFCD to begin enacting meaningful marine legislation, establish NO take zones, step up enforcement and support local marine conservation groups.

    Charles Frew


    Soon after Charlie Frew’s letter (which was published in the SCM Post), get a news item in SCMP, with marine expert Dr Bill Ballantine calling for fishing ban in half of Hong Kong waters.

    Ballantine had set up New Zealand’s first marine reserve; became a success, partly as became a no fishing zone.
    Quoted in SCMP as saying that allowing fishing in our marine parks was “not just wrong but pathetically silly”.
    Also, re marine environment, said degree of damage about proportional to population density and its activities – so “It isn’t really surprising that yours [Hong Kong’s] is just about the worst.”
    Suggested halting fishing in around 50% of Hong Kong’s waters.

    For all the “worst in the world”, we indeed know that HK marine diversity is high – but populations of fish etc woeful. With protection along lines of reseres Dr Ballantine established in NZ, surely could be huge improvements – and could even help fisheries. But as yet, seems fat chance of such progress!


    The letter Charlie F posted above did elicit response, which appeared in today’s SCM Post. By Joseph Sham, for director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation.

    Rather bland response, as if repeating corporate type info.
    Says we have marine parks and reserves, with management, plus monitoring thro Reef Check surveys, and public education efforts.
    – all things that Charlie of course knows very well.

    So, no real response re improving management of marine parks, and establishing no take zones. Nothing re the incidents Charlie cited. Nothing re moving towards sustainability. Nothing to really refute Charlie’s assertion that, “On the global stage of marine protection Hong Kong must surely rank at the very bottom.”
    And certainly no allusion to Dr Ballantine’s quote in above post re HK having one of world’s worst marine ecosystems!

    Nor, indeed, anything re AFCD being in charge of both taking marine life such as fish, and of protecting marine life such as fish: that has to be a tough balancing act.
    And in saying reserves help protect species such as Chinese white dolphin, doesn’t note that high-speed ferries still permitted in dolphin areas.

    Wonder if Mr Edward Yau will chip in with something more substantial.


    WWF Hong Kong CEO had letter in SCMP yesterday, responding to the AFCD letter. Wasn’t impressed by AFCD letter, which had no extra initiatives to further marine conservation.

    The current efforts by government are woefully inadequate and fail to provide any reassurance that stronger measures will be introduced within the next decade.
    The time for real action is now. Our one marine reserve, while the marine parks are failing to allow heavily depleted fish populations to recover.
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