WWF Lobbying Government for Additional Marine Parks

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.

Advertisements

Dolphins & Porpoise Found Dead During Lunar New Year

A dolphin concern group published on its social media page that one chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) and four finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) were found stranded between Saturday the 17th and Monday the 19th of February. Autopsy scans found food remains in the dolphins, showing they were not starved to death. However, they showed multiple fractures. It is feared they were hit by motorboats as they had injuries on their heads and necks.

One finless porpoise was almost cut in half by what is thought to have been a boat propeller.

The adult Chinese white dolphin was found stranded at Mo To Chau. It was a 2.5-meter female, at least 10 years old, and with signs of choking, bone fractures and serious bone dislocation. The death of an adult female is a great loss to the species’ population growth, with numbers in Hong Kong down from over 120 some years ago to 47 at present.

In the past three years there have only been 3-4 stranded cetaceans in tyhe months of January and February. This year, more than 10 dead cetaceans have been discovered in the same period.

High-speed boats are always a big threat to dolphins and some might be hit by propellers and never be discovered. The Dolphin Conservation Society of Hong Kong (HKDCS) has urged the government to launch a speed restrictions on boats around dolphin and porpoise habitats or even ban them from entering these areas.

According to the HKDCS only one new-born Chinese white dolphin was recorded last year. With the loss of another adult female dolphin, there is a dwindling chance of recovery of the local population.

Finless porpoise reported greed from fishing net on social media

A HK fishing groups social media account has reported a finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) being freed from a floating fishing net on the 18th of February.

It’s not clear who the net belonged to and how long the animal was trapped in it.

Source here

Relocated Seahorses Missing

Two endangered seahorses which were moved from Lung Mei Beach near Tai Po, to make way for man-made pleasure beach, ca not be found anymore. Whether they survived the move is not known.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department failed to find them during a search in late January.

“We have not located the seahorses but we have not found any bodies either,” said senior engineer Raymond Cheng Kin-man. “We are

confident that they are still alive.”

Trawling Ban Enforced – Man Given Suspended Jail Sentence for Trawling 

A man who illegally used trawling gear for fishing on January 17th 2018 has been convicted and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and a fine of $4,000 at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Court on January 18th 2018.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the Marine Police mounted an anti-illegal fishing operation in the eastern waters of Hong Kong yesterday, and found a mainland shrimp trawler suspected to be trawling at Ninepin Islands. The vessel was inspected and gear used for trawling was seized on board the vessel. Upon investigation by the AFCD, a male master on the vessel was charged for contravening the Fisheries Protection Regulations by using prohibited fishing gear. He was convicted and sentenced.

The ban on trawling came into force on December 31st, 2012. All electricity transmitting devices used for fishing are also prohibited. 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.

Trawling is a non-selective fishing method which severely damages the seabed, especially trawling with electricity which kills all marine life around the trawl net and causes serious damage to the marine ecosystem.

Photo credit AFCD.

99 Artificially Hatched Sea Turtles  Released From Huizhou Turtle Reserve

According to the ChinaPlus website, China released its first batch of artificially-bred sea turtles near Huizhou in Guangdong province. 99 sea turtles in total have returned to the sea.

The National Huizhou Sea Turtle Reserve is about 80 kilometers east of Shenzhen and has a 1-kilometer-long beach. It was established in 1985, and has since witnessed a drop in the number of laying sea turtles – from more than 100 yearly in the 1980s to single digits now.

According to the China Daily, only a few sea turtles have laid eggs in recent years and there haven’y been anyone the first 9 months of 2016. 

The reserve in Huizhou is the only known active laying ground remaining for sea turtles along the 18,000-kilometer coastline of the Chinese mainland, excluding Hong Kong.
The reserve hatches the eggs, nurtures the hatchlings, saves wounded turtles and raises public awareness through exhibitions about wildlife conservation.

Sea turtles take 20 or even 50 years to reach puberty, so it may take a while before an increase is seen.

Hong Kong Underwater Photo Competition Winners 2017 Announced

The Hong Kong Underwater Photo and Video Competition 2017 jointly organised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and Hong Kong Underwater Association, announced its winning entries.

The Hong Kong Underwater Photo and Video Competition, in its 6th year now, received 436 entries this year, featuring marine ecology, habitats and marine life in Hong Kong waters.

An AFCD spokesman said, “Entries over the years have showcased the beauty of marine life and habitats in Hong Kong waters, and have helped promote the conservation of the marine environment.”

The event comprised a photo competition and a video competition. There were two categories in the photo competition, namely the Macro and Close-up Category and the Standard and Wide Angle Category. In addition to prizes for champions and runners-up in each group, there were Special Prizes for Junior Underwater Photographers presented by the judging panel to encourage less experienced underwater photographers to participate in the competition.

Please click the thumbnail images to enlarge.