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Advisory Council on the Environment

Proposed Implementation of Fisheries Resources Management Measures and Artificial Reef Deployment Programme

(ACE Paper 30/2000)
For information

Introduction

We briefed Members on the recommendations of the Consultancy Study on Fisheries Resources and Fishing Operations in Hong Kong Waters and the Artificial Reef Deployment Study in November 1998 and August 1999 through ACE Papers 50/98 and 35/99 respectively. Public consultation on the recommendations of these consultancy studies was carried out in late 1998 and 1999 separately. This paper reports the outcome of the consultation and seeks Members' comments on the implementation strategy for the fisheries resources management measures and the artificial reef deployment programme.

OUTCOME OF CONSULTATION

Fisheries Resources Management Measures

  1. During the three-month consultation, 18 submissions were received. Most of them supported the implementation of management measures to restore fisheries resources with priority given to the establishment of a fishing licence system, limiting entrants, setting up nursery and spawning ground protection areas, habitat enhancement, habitat restoration and restocking. Control over the use of non-selective fishing methods (such as trawl and trammel nets) in certain areas was also suggested.
     
  2. However, there were divergent views on the extent and pace of implementation. Fishermen were concerned about the likely impact of the management measures on their livelihood. Some fisherman associations suggested that ex-gratia allowance should be given to offset the impact of the proposed management measures. On the contrary, green groups pressed for a faster pace of implementation of management measures to rectify the depletion of fisheries resources partly due to overfishing.
     

Artificial Reef Deployment Programme

  1. The three-month public consultation covered discussions with various sectors of the fishing industry, Advisory Council on the Environment, green groups, Provisional District Boards (PDBs), consultative committees and working groups of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), consultative committees of Marine Department and recreational fishing organizations. There was general support for the programme although there was some concern over the possible impact on the livelihood of fishermen and how Government should help them.
     
  2. Most fishermen with small crafts also supported the implementation of the artificial reef deployment programme and the establishment of marine special areas to protect fisheries resources in inshore waters from destruction by trawling. However, many fishermen involved in trawling objected to the deployment of artificial reefs and setting up of marine special areas in Hong Kong waters, especially the three marine special areas around Soko Islands, Ninepin Islands and South of Lamma Island proposed for deployment of artificial reefs.
     

PROPOSED IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY

  1. As deployment of artificial reefs is one of the means to achieve habitat enhancement/restoration, we intend to implement the fisheries resources management measures and the artificial reef deployment programme concurrently. Having regard to the outcome of the consultation and the views of the Working Group on Artificial Reefs and the Working Group on Fisheries Management (comprising fishermen's representatives, green groups and academics), we propose the following implementation strategy as set out in paragraphs 7 to 9 below.
     

Establishment of Fisheries Protection Areas

  1. As fisheries resources management and artificial reef deployment are complementary to each other, we intend to merge the marine special area and the fish spawning and nursery ground protection area proposed by the consultants into a fisheries protection area. To alleviate the concern of some fishermen over the impact of the artificial reef deployment programme on their operation or livelihood, the fisheries protection areas will be taken forward gradually and fishermen's views will be taken into account as far as possible.
     
  2. We propose to set up two fisheries protection areas in the waters near Port Shelter and Tolo Harbour first and to deploy artificial reefs in these areas. This would include deployment of a number of artificial reef units made of different materials in Outer Port Shelter, Long Harbour and Tap Mun. After the establishment of the above two fisheries protection areas, we will stock fish fry in these areas if necessary, so as to speed up the restoration of fisheries resources.
     

Management of Fisheries Protection Areas and Artificial Reef Sites

  1. The proposed fisheries protection areas and artificial reef sites must be properly managed in order to achieve the aim of protection of fisheries resources. We suggest the following management measures: -
     
       (a) to control fishing activities in the areas by means of a licence system. This would include restricting fishing vessels, fishing methods and catching of fish fry. We also suggest revising the Fisheries Protection Ordinance to provide legal back-up for the management measures applicable to the protection areas; and
 
  (b) to consider prohibition of fishing activities in some of the waters within artificial reef sites.
 

CONSULTATION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION STRATERGY

  1. The proposed implementation strategy as set out in paragraphs 7 to 9 above was introduced to the fishermen's groups concerned, District Councils and advisory committees earlier this year. Except for some fishermen's groups who objected to the deployment of artificial reefs and the establishment of fisheries protection areas, there was general support for the proposal.
     
  2. To address concerns raised by trawler fishermen and some small-scale fishermen, we have revised the boundary of the fisheries protection area at Tolo Habour and the areas for deployment of artificial reefs at both Port Shelter and Tolo Harbour. The revised fisheries protection areas (subject to discussion with Tap Mun fishermen) would occupy some 14 000 hectares, representing about 9% of Hong Kong waters (see Enclosure).
     
  3. To expedite implementation, we established in June 2000 an ad hoc group under the Working Group on Fisheries Management to discuss technical details arising from the fishing license programme and setting up of the fisheries protection areas. We are confident that these measures would help conserve fisheries resources in our waters and promote sustainable development of the fishing industry. It takes time for the effects to emerge. We will consider expanding the programme when the benefits are demonstrated.
     

ADVICE SOUGHT

  1. Members are invited to comment on the implementation strategy proposed in paragraphs 7 to 9 above.

     

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
August 2000

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