Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance

Technical Memorandum

Annex 17


1. General

1.1 These guidelines describe the general approach and methodology used in conducting a fisheries impact assessment study. The general approach and methodology 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 an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study for a proposed development which may affect fishing and aquaculture activities, fisheries resources and habitats, and aquaculture sites (gazetted marine fish culture zones, fish ponds and oyster beds). It aims at providing sufficient and accurate data to allow a complete and objective predictions and evaluation of the potential fisheries impacts.

2. Determination on the Need for Fisheries Impact Assessment

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

  1. development projects listed in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance and involving seabed, foreshores and fish ponds that may affect fishing and aquaculture activities, fisheries resources and habitats, and aquaculture sites; or
  2. development projects listed in Schedule 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance and with direct or indirect discharges of any kind of pollutants which may affect fishing and aquaculture activities, fisheries resources and habitats, and aquaculture sites.

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. Prediction of potential fisheries impacts;
  3. Evaluation of the significance of the impacts predicted;
  4. Recommendations of cost-effective and practicable alternatives and mitigation measures;
  5. Recommendations of an appropriate monitoring programme.

3.2 Fisheries Baseline Information

3.2.1 A fisheries assessment study shall provide adequate and accurate baseline data of a proposed development 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. Such information includes both published and unpublished materials. Useful information could also be obtained from consultation of local fishermen/aquaculturists, marine and fisheries biologists, and non-government organizations and relevant government departments.

    The accuracy and usefulness of the fisheries information obtained must be carefully evaluated before adopting it in the EIA report. Aspects such as time of survey (is the information out of date ?), methodology, etc. shall be taken into account. If there are doubts, they shall be verified by on-site survey(s).

  2. Field Surveys

Based on the results of (i) above, the study shall identify data gap and determine if there is any need for field surveys. The primary aim of the field surveys is to fill the data gap and to gather adequate information for subsequent fisheries impact prediction and evaluation, formulation of proposed mitigation measures and monitoring requirements. If field surveys are considered necessary, the study shall recommend appropriate methodology, duration and timing for the field surveys. the field surveys and laboratory analysis must be undertaken by suitably trained and competent personnel with adequate knowledge in fisheries and laboratory works. The data obtained shall be quantified and statistical analysis shall be applied wherever appropriate.

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

  1. level of fisheries resources and composition of commercially important species in the study areas;
  2. the level and pattern of fishing activity and fisheries production in the study area;
  3. sites of fisheries importance such as nursery and spawning grounds of commercially important species of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other marine organisms, and seasonal occurrence of juvenile and spawning stocks in the study area;
  4. aquaculture activity in the study area.

3.3 Prediction of Impacts

3.3.1 Based on the project profile and fisheries baseline information gathered, the fisheries impact study shall predict potential fisheries impacts caused by a proposed development. All potential impacts, including direct, indirect, long term, short term, on-site, off-site, primary, secondary, tertiary, 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 stated whenever applicable. the nature and extent of impacts on aquaculture and capture fisheries shall be described and quantified.

3.3.2 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 development 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 Proposing Mitigation Measures

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 practicable such as adopting suitable alternatives (e.g. change of site, design, construction method, alignment, layout, programme, etc.). In extreme cases when the fisheries impact assessment study identifies some very serious but unmitigatable impacts, the "no-go" alternative which may be the only realistic option shall be included and assessed against all other options.

  2. Minimizing

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

  3. Compensation

When all possible mitigation measures have been exhausted and there are still significant residual impacts or when the impacts are permanent and irreversible, consideration shall be given to off-site compensation. It may include enhancement of fisheries resources and habitats elsewhere.

3.5.2 All mitigation measures recommended shall be practicable and cost-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 Recommendation for Monitoring and Audit Programme

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 form the proposed development; and
  3. to monitor the effectiveness of the mitigation measures.