Hong Kong Post unveiled a series of new postal stamps this week, including a set featuring Hong Kong’s rich marine biodiversity designed by Shirman Lai . Revealing our beautiful underwater world, this six-piece issue aims to promote awareness for marine conservation in the hope of making joint efforts to preserve our precious marine life. For extra fun, the souvenir sheet features fish-shape perforations to match the overall fish silhouette. Among others the stamp features the Chinese White dolphin, stingrays, corals green sea turtles and jellyfish.
Three men who used trawling gear to fish illegally on August 27 were convicted and sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment suspended for one year at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts on August 29.
The Marine Police found a trawler suspected to be trawling in the waters off Conic Island (Sai Kung Area) at about 7pm on August 27 and intercepted the vessel for an inspection. Two hundred catties of fish and some trawling apparatus were seized on board the vessel.
The AFCD took over the case. Upon investigation, three men on the vessel were charged for contravening the Fisheries Protection Regulations by using prohibited fishing gear. They appeared at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts and were convicted and sentenced today. The fishing gear concerned was also forfeited.
An AFCD spokesman reminded the public that the ban on trawling came into force on December 31, 2012. Under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance, any person who contravenes the ban is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction.
Trawling is a non-selective fishing operation which damages the seabed and marine ecosystems. A ban on trawling has brought this harmful depletion to an immediate halt, enabling marine ecosystems to be gradually rehabilitated to a sustainable level and be better conserved in the long run.
The spokesman said, “The AFCD and the Police will continue to carry out joint enforcement operations to crack down on illegal fishing activities.”
The AFCD released three green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the southern waters of Hong Kong on July 27.
One of the turtles was seized by the AFCD in an operation, while the other two were rescued in the waters near Sha Tau Kok and Siu Sai Wan, respectively. The three green turtles were accommodated temporarily at Ocean Park where they were assessed by veterinarians and kept under constant monitoring and veterinary care.
The three turtles released weighed 10 kg, 11 kg and 93kg respectively, and their shell lengths were 43 cm, 45 cm and 92 cm. All of them were assessed by veterinarians as being in good condition and ready to be returned to the sea.
Before the green turtles were released to the sea, the AFCD tagged each of them with a microchip and tags for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to their shells. By tracking the movement and feeding grounds of green turtles in the sea, the AFCD will collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share its findings with other conservation authorities for the better conservation of green turtles through concerted efforts.
If you see any sea turtles or suspected irregularities involving sea turtles you should call the AFCD via 1823.
On the 29th of June the government gazetted a proposed plan for artificial reefs to be built inside the Brothers Marine Park, to improve the habitat and boost fish numbers. The artificial reefs will cover around 0.7 hectares inside the 66-hectare marine park off Lantau to the east of the airport.
The works are tentatively scheduled to start at the end of 2018 and should be completed by 2019.
The marine park has been identified as an important habitat for endangered Chinese White Dolphins, and a spawning ground for commercially important fish species.
Earlier this week an online video of a whale shark in Hong Kong went viral.
Unfortunately there is no specific protection for this species in Hong Kong, so experts are calling on the government to introduce laws to protect whale sharks which are infrequent visitors to Hong Kong waters in the summer months.
The footage was posted by a Lamma Island resident Robert Lockyer, who said the footage was sent to him by one of the fishermen who encountered the shark on Tuesday.
Lockyer said there had been another local sighting on May 22, but he believed it was a different shark at another location.
The fisherman who took the video did not wish for his identity or the location of the sighting to be known.
WWF yesterday (31st May) published “Sea for Future: Conservation Priority Sites for Hong Kong”, in which it proposed designating West Lantau, South Lamma, Shui Hau, Ninepin Group and Pak Nai as marine parks.
WWF also proposed to turn Sharp Island and Shelter Island in Port Shelter, as well as Tolo Harbour, into marine protected areas.
This would restrict developments in marine parks, limit boat speeds and ban the collection of marine creatures.
However, compared to marine parks the marine protected areas would have more lax regulations also be regulations.
Under the proposal the waters off Tai O and Yi O would be combined into a western Lantau marine park.
Tai O and Fan Lau are the only remaining core habitats of the dolphins, whose numbers have dropped from 188 in 2003 to just 47 in 2017.
Together with existing plans for two marine parks near Chek Lap Kok and southwest Lantau, the Tai O a marine park would provide a protected corridor for the dolphins during construction of the third runway.
A core dolphin conservation zone around Tai O would ban coastal development and put restrictions on traffic.
The South Lamma, Sham Wan, is the only nesting site for the turtles in HK, and its beach is closed to visitors during their nesting period between June and October.
But waters off the beach are not covered by the ban, and the area is popular with recreational boats. These affect the turtles, as they have to swim past to go onto the beach.
Human disturbances can prevent female green turtles from nesting.
The turtles were last spotted nesting there in 2012. Marine park status would limit human access to the beach and nearby shallow waters, control disturbance to the turtles and limit the speed of vessels to minimize risks of collision.
WWF also suggested making Shui Hau Wan in Lantau a marine park to protect horseshoe crabs. No-take zones should be created, and partial closures should to be implemented during their breeding season.
This should also be done in wetland Pak Nai in Yuen Long, a habitat for globally-endangered black-faced spoonbills.