Sustainable Fisheries Development Fund Invites Applications

The Sustainable Fisheries Development Fund has opened for applications. The Fund aims to help the local fisheries community move towards sustainable or high value-added operations so that the trade can enhance its overall competitiveness and cope with new challenges. This will allow fishermen to improve their ability to cope with the changing operating environment as well as their own livelihoods.

A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said: “Capture fisheries in Hong Kong are affected by the depletion of fisheries resources and the trawl ban. Despite the opportunities available as a result of the restructuring of the fisheries industry, many local fishermen remain cautious about the prospects of growth while others are held back by the risks and technical challenges involved. Meanwhile, aquaculture also needs support for modernisation.

“Against this background, the administration has identified five possible areas for the fishing community and related stakeholders to put the Fund to good use, in furtherance of the objectives of placing the further development of the industry on a sustainable track. Projects not falling within such areas will also be considered as long as they are in line with the purpose of the Fund and meet the assessment criteria.

“The five areas are exploring new opportunities in the South China Sea, development of sustainable practices for fishing operations in Hong Kong waters, aquaculture development, accreditation and marketing of local fisheries products, and fisheries resources monitoring and enhancement.”

In vetting applications, the Advisory Committee on Sustainable Fisheries Development Fund (the Advisory Committee) will give due consideration to the project needs, feasibility and expected outcomes. The projects should contribute in a direct and practical way towards the sustainable development of the local fisheries industry. The benefits they bring about must accrue to the local fisheries community as a whole.

In general, the projects should be non-profit-making, but commercial projects may also be considered. Applicants will be required to draw up detailed business plans and budgets for the Advisory Committee to scrutiny. Projects involving commercial elements will be funded on a dollar-for-dollar matching basis. The Government’s contribution will be limited to no more than 50 per cent of the total project cost.

Eligible applicants include legal entities that have demonstrated a close connection with the local fisheries industry such as local incorporated companies, registered fisheries co-operatives, non-profit-making fisheries organisations, non-governmental organisations or social enterprises, as well as academic and research institutions in Hong Kong.

Applications are accepted throughout the year and the Advisory Committee will meet regularly to vet the applications. Completed application forms, together with information of the applicant demonstrating their connection with the local fisheries industry, should reach the Secretariat for the Fund at least six months prior to the commencement of the project.

Application guidelines and forms can be downloaded from the AFCD website (www.afcd.gov.hk) while hard copy is available from the Secretariat for the Fund and the liaison offices of the Fish Marketing Organization.

Source: The Fish Site, 11/7/2014

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RTHK: no more fish, no more fishermen

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

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