Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance

Technical Memorandum

Annex 17


1. General

1.1 This Annex describes the general approach and methodology for conducting a fisheries impact assessment study, which may vary from case to case depending on the nature of the fisheries issues and the latest development in methods and techniques.

1.2 A fisheries impact assessment is part of the EIA study for a designated project which may affect capture and culture fisheries. It aims at providing adequate and accurate data to allow a complete and objective prediction and evaluation of the potential fisheries impacts.

2. Determination on the Need for Fisheries Impact Assessment

2.1 The types of projects that may require a fisheries impact assessment include:

  1. proposed projects which involve the marine and intertidal environment and inland fish ponds, and may affect fishing grounds and aquaculture sites, fishing and aquaculture activities, as well as fisheries resources and habitats; or
  2. proposed projects with direct or indirect discharges of any kind which may affect fishing grounds and aquaculture sites, fishing and aquaculture activities, as well as fisheries resources and habitats.

3. Fisheries Impact Assessment Study

3.1 A fisheries impact assessment study shall consist of 5 parts of equal importance:

  1. provision of comprehensive and accurate baseline information on fisheries;
  2. identification and prediction of potential fisheries impacts;
  3. evaluation of the significance of the impacts predicted;
  4. recommendations of effective and practicable alternatives and mitigation measures;
  5. recommendations of the need for and the scope of fisheries monitoring and audit programme.

3.2 Fisheries Baseline Information

3.2.1 The baseline study of a fisheries assessment shall provide adequate and accurate fisheries baseline data of a proposed project site and its adjacent area of probable impact (the study area) for accurate prediction and evaluation of fisheries impacts. The baseline study shall include at least the following:

  1. Review and Collation of Existing Information

    Existing information regarding the study area shall be reviewed. The most recent and updated information should be used and due weight should be given to published data of recognized sources. Useful information can also be obtained from consultation of local fishermen/aquaculturists, marine and fisheries scientists, and relevant government departments.

    The accuracy and usefulness of the fisheries information obtained must be carefully evaluated and verified before adopting it in the EIA report. Unless the information obtained is determined to be still valid, field survey(s) shall be conducted to verify the information.

  2. Fisheries Baseline Surveys

Based on the results of (i) above, the study shall determine if there is any need for fisheries baseline surveys taking into account the location, scale and potential impacts of the project. The aim of the fisheries baseline surveys is to gather adequate information for subsequent fisheries impact prediction and evaluation, formulation of proposed mitigation measures and monitoring requirements. If fisheries baseline surveys are considered necessary, the surveys shall cover fisheries resources and habitats and/or fisheries activities of the study area. The study shall recommend methodology, duration and timing for the surveys that are suitable for collecting the required data. The field surveys and data analyses must be undertaken by adequately trained and competent personnel with adequate knowledge and experience in fisheries. The data obtained shall be quantified and statistical analyses shall be applied wherever applicable. Results of all relevant field surveys, the names and relevant experience of the competent personnel undertaking the surveys, shall be documented in field survey reports prepared, checked and signed by relevant professionals or experts.

Where fisheries baseline surveys are considered necessary for a project, the duration shall be at least 6 months and up to 12 months. A project of larger scale and higher complexity or with a study area with higher importance in fisheries resources/production shall normally require a longer duration of survey. The minimum duration of the surveys shall be defined in the relevant EIA study brief.

3.2.2 Fisheries information required for fisheries impact assessment shall include, but not be limited to -

  1. level of fisheries resources/production and composition of commercially important species in the study area;
  2. the level and pattern of fishing and aquaculture activities in the study area;
  3. sites of fisheries importance such as aquaculture sites, fisheries habitats, nursery and spawning grounds of commercially important species, and any known seasonal occurrence of juvenile and spawning stocks in the study area;

3.3 Identification and Prediction of Impacts

3.3.1 Based on the project profile and fisheries baseline information gathered, the fisheries impact study shall identify and predict potential fisheries impacts caused by a proposed project. All potential impacts, including direct, indirect, long term, short term, on-site, off-site, primary, secondary, induced, additional, synergistic, cumulative impacts, etc, shall be listed out. Suitable methodology such as checklists (descriptive, scaling, etc.), matrices, networks, features mapping, etc, shall be used and clearly described whenever applicable. The nature and extent of impacts on aquaculture and capture fisheries shall be described and quantified.

3.3.2 Identification and prediction of impacts on fisheries shall take into account, but not exclusively rely upon, assessments for water quality and ecological impacts.

3.4 Evaluation of Impacts

3.4.1 The significance of the predicted impacts of a proposed project on aquaculture and capture fisheries shall be evaluated as systematically as practicable using well defined criteria. The general criteria used are presented in Annex 9.

3.5 Mitigation of Impacts

3.5.1 The general policy for mitigating impacts on fisheries, in order of priority, are:

  1. Avoidance

    Potential impacts shall be avoided to the maximum extent as practicable such as adopting suitable alternatives (e.g. change of site, design, construction method, alignment, layout, programme, etc.). In cases where the fisheries impact assessment study identifies very serious impacts that cannot be mitigated, modification of the project shall be considered.

  2. Minimizing

    Unavoidable impacts shall be minimized by practicable measures such as confining works in specific area or season, restoration of disturbed fisheries resources and habitats, etc.

  3. Compensation

The loss of fisheries resources and habitats and aquaculture sites, if assessed to be significant, shall be compensated by measures such as enhancement of fisheries resources and habitats and re-provisioning of aquaculture sites.

3.5.2 All mitigation measures recommended shall be practicable and effective within the context of Hong Kong. The effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures shall be carefully evaluated and the significance of any residual impacts after implementing them shall be clearly stated.

3.6 Fisheries Monitoring and Audit Programme

3.6.1 The purpose of fisheries monitoring and audit are:

  1. to verify the accuracy of the predictions of the fisheries impact assessment study;
  2. to detect any unpredicted fisheries impacts arising from the proposed project;
  3. to monitor the effectiveness of the mitigation measures; and
  4. to recommend action plans in response to unpredicted impacts, and/or ineffective mitigation.