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Our precious and dearly living resources

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It is surprising to know that Hong Kong’s marine ecosystem is considered the worst in the world. A renowned marine biologist recently revealed this astonishing fact. The government should take the lead in promoting sustainable development of the fishing industry and at the same time, conserve fisheries resources in Hong Kong waters.

Decline of fisheries resources in the traditional fishing grounds for Hong Kong fishermen has become more obvious in recent years. The present Hong Kong fishery is not sustainable since the harvest rate is greater than the sum of the natural rate of increase by reproduction and the decrease caused by mortality.

Illegal fishing, over-exploitation of fisheries resources and destructive fishing methods caused a decline in fisheries production. Less and less marine species can be found in Hong Kong waters. While it is vital for the government to ensure that fishermen can make their ends meet, it should also conserve the marine environment.

A sustainable marine policy is needed to preserve Hong Kong’s rich marine biodiversity and heritage. Conducting aquaculture studies and providing technical services towards the development of more efficient fish culture methods are simple but encouraging steps. Apart from that, the SAR government may consider changing more marine parks into no- fishing zone, like the one at Cape d’ Aguilar Marine Reserve.

The marine biologist also revealed that the degree of damage to the marine environment is more or less proportional to the population density and its activities. Since Hong Kong has high population density, the SAR government needs to adopt some measures to safeguard the marine ecosystem.

To begin with, it is of paramount importance for the government to impose a ban on fishing in Hong Kong waters. Fishing in marine parks is pathetically inapplicable and must not be allowed. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department should not issue permits to bona fide fishermen to conduct non- destructive fishing in marine parks. Commercial fishing with small-scale fishing gears should not be permitted in Marine Parks by license holders as well.

Marine parks are for the conservation of marine life and habitats, and to facilitate recreation, while marine reserves are to allow scientific study in an area subject to minimal human disturbance. Even though it is not necessary to impose a total ban on recreational and commercial fishing in Hong Kong waters, these areas must come under the protection of the government, so that it can implement sustainable measures to protect our precious marine environment.



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