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.
Hong Kong was once famous for its fishing industry. In the 1960s, the annual catch was about 100,000 tonnes; yet with the advancement in fishing techniques, this increased to about 200,000 tonnes by the 1980s.
However, over-fishing has been depleting the marine resources around Hong Kong. In the early 1990s, the catches began to decrease and by 2009, the harvest was 160,000 tonnes – the figure from the early 1970s when fishing was done from sailing vessels. Not only the quantity of fish declined, but the average size of the fish.
David Hsiung has over 50 years of diving experience as an underwater photographer; at age 73, he continues to dive regularly. In the late 1960s, when he ventured out to Helen Shoal, near the Zhongsha Islands, he shot remarkable footageof multitudes of fish through crystal clear water. Among the species he saw for the first time wasHumphead Wrasse. In the 70s, Hsiungphotographed near the Dongsha Islands, where he found many Coral Trout and Humpback Grouper; but by the late 80s, over-fishing had almost depleted the area of fish. He has not returnedsince: hecannot bear the sight of the deserted ocean.
Underwater photographers and divers are not the only people disappointed. Fishermen who rely on the sea for their living have experienced huge changes in the past 50 years. Mr. Cheung has spent half his life fishing in Hong Kong waters, and the amount of fish he catches these days is nothing compared to his early days. When the Hong Kong government banned trawling in Hong Kong waters in 2013, Cheung went fishing for the last time. Environmental groups estimate that by 2018, the amount of fish such as grouper will increase by 20 to 30%.
Source: RTHK 1/5/2014