9                          FISHERIES IMPACT


9.1                    Introduction


9.1.1                The Assessment of potential impacts on fisheries arising from construction and operation of the proposed Project are presented in this section of the EIA Report.  This fisheries assessment is based on a desktop review of the latest relevant literature. It includes a description of baseline conditions, evaluation of potential impacts, and recommended mitigation measures, where necessary. The objectives of the fisheries impact assessment are to:


·         Establish the importance of the fisheries habitats that may be affected by construction and operation of the Project.

·         Identify fisheries sensitive receivers.

·         Assess the scale of possible impacts on fisheries resources arising from the proposed works.

·         Identify any necessary mitigation measures and evaluate residual impacts.

·         Assess the need for a fisheries monitoring and audit programme.


9.2                    Environmental Legislation, Standards and Guidelines


9.2.1                Evaluation of fisheries impacts in Hong Kong was conducted according to criteria set out in the EIAO TM. These criteria provide for the complete and objective identification, prediction and evaluation of potential fisheries impacts. In this regard, Annex 9 of the Technical Memorandum sets out criteria for evaluating fisheries impact while Annex 17 denotes the guidelines for fisheries impact assessment.


9.2.2                Other legislation that applies to fisheries and is relevant to fisheries assessment includes the:


·         Fisheries Protection Ordinance (Cap. 171) – It promotes the conservation of fish and other forms of aquatic life within the waters of Hong Kong and regulates fishing practices to prevent activities detrimental to the fishing industry.

·         Marine Fish Culture Ordinance (Cap. 353) – It designates, regulates and protects fish culture zones (FCZs) from injury to fish and pollution of waters.

·         Water Pollution Ordinance (Cap. 358) – It sets limits to water quality parameters in various Water Control Zones.


9.3                    Assessment Methodology


9.3.1                Baseline information on fisheries in the Assessment Area was elucidated via a desktop review of the literature.  This review included relevant fisheries baseline data presented in AFCD’s Port Survey 2001/2002 and incorporated the most recent information available in other reports and publications. Potential impacts on the Fish Culture Zone at Tung Lung Chau are also discussed. The impact assessment followed the criteria and guidelines for evaluating and assessing fisheries impacts as stated in Annexes 9 and 17 of the EIAO TM.

9.4                    Description of the Environment


9.4.1                In Hong Kong, marine-based commercial fishing operations are classified as capture or culture fisheries. According to AFCD (2005), in 2004, Hong Kong’s capture fisheries’ fishing fleet comprised about 4,630 vessels, about half of which were sampans or non-mechanised boats. The Hong Kong fleet was manned by 9,500 local fishers, mainly family members, and also employs Mainland deckhands.  In terms of production, in 2004, the capture fisheries industry yielded about 167,500 tonnes of fisheries produce valued at about HK$1,600 million. About 90% of the catch was caught in waters outside Hong Kong (AFCD 2004) on the traditional fishing grounds over the continental shelf of the East and South China Seas.


9.4.2                Some recent data on the local capture fisheries industry against the background of heavy exploitation and over-fishing of inshore fisheries resources are shown in Table 9.1. Since 1999, Mainland Authorities have implemented a fishing moratorium for two months during midsummer for South China Sea fishing grounds. This fishing ban (from 1 June to 1 August) prohibits fishing activity by the Hong Kong fleet in the South China Sea outside HKSAR waters except by gill-netting, long-lining, hand-lining and cage trapping.


Table 9.1     Recent Hong Kong Capture Fisheries Industry Figures










Fishing fleet size (No. of vessels)







Portion of fishing fleet comprising sampans (P4) and non-mechanised vessels

No data

No data





Local fishers engaged in capture fisheries







Mainland deckhand employed

No data

No data





Production (tonnes)







Value of produce (HK$ million)







Note: no data – data were unavailable at time of reporting

Source: AFCD


9.4.3                Culture fisheries activities, on the other hand, include 26 fish culture zones (FCZs) located in various sheltered embayments across the HKSAR and occupy about 209 ha of sea area. Typically, fish farms are relatively small scale, family-run operations consisting of one or two rafts with an average size of about 260m2. In 2004, there were 1,125 licensed operators at these FCZs. With effect from June 2002, the Marine Fish Culture Ordinance was amended to allow licenses to be transferred. The annual production in 2004 by the marine fish culture industry was about 1,540 tonnes of fish valued at HK$79 million and catering for about 9.1% of local demand for live marine fish (AFCD 2005). Some recent figures on the local marine culture fisheries are presented in Table 9.2.

Table 9.2     Recent Hong Kong Fish Culture Industry Figures










Licensed mariculturists







Production (tonnes)







Value (HK$ million)








               Source: AFCD


Capture Fisheries


9.4.4                With regard to the capture fisheries operations and resources, the Assessment Area comprises fishing grounds within Junk Bay.


9.4.5                According to the most recently published data (AFCD 2003), annual catches of adult fish within Junk Bay are typically in the range 100-200kg /ha, but reach higher levels of 200-400kg / ha at the middle southern edge and southeast areas of the bay. In comparison with other fishing grounds across Hong Kong, the fishing grounds of Junk Bay are therefore considered to support low to moderate adult fish production.


9.4.6                Fry production in Junk Bay, used as grow-out stock by mariculturists, is very limited (AFCD 2003).  Latest figures indicate that the fry caught in the inner Junk Bay waters were at a low density of >0 – 50 tails/ha (AFCD 2003). No fry production was recorded from outer Junk Bay. In the same way, Junk Bay was not considered to be an important spawning or nursery ground for commercially important species (ERM 1998).


9.4.7                The scale of fishing operations in terms of number of fishing vessels operating in Junk Bay is considered to be low to moderate (100 – 400 vessels) as compared with other fishing grounds of Hong Kong. Junk Bay supports a range of fishing vessel operations dominated by P4 sampans but also including gill-netters, handliners and miscellaneous craft. In addition, small numbers of stern trawlers, long liner, and purse seine vessels operate in Junk Bay. According to AFCD data, limited numbers of shrimp trawlers generally confine fishing effort to outer Junk Bay. In terms of vessel size, all fishing vessels operating in Junk Bay were less than 15m in length with the exception of a small number of larger vessels operating at the outer areas of Junk Bay.


9.4.8                At inner Junk Bay, production levels are generally low compared to other local fishing grounds with the exception of moderate catches (20-40kg/ha) of seabream (Sparidae) and rabbitfish (Siganidae).  Among the other most common components of the catch by Hong Kong fisheries, inner Junk Bay has low-moderate production of crab (10-20kg/ha) and low production (5-10kg/ha) of croaker (Sciaenidae). The waters of inner Junk bay also typically yield very low production (<5 kg/ha) of sardine (Clupeidae), scad (Carangidae), anchovy (Engraulidae), threadfin seabream (Nemiperidae), squid and shrimp.


9.4.9                Outer Junk Bay fishing grounds on the other hand, generally support high production (40-60kg/ha) of seabream (Sparidae) and rabbitfish (Siganidae) and moderate production (20-40kg/ha) of crabs.  These waters also yield low-moderate production (10-20kg/ha) of scad (Carangidae), croaker (Sciaenidae) and squid, and low production (5-10kg/ha) of anchovy (Engraulidae), sardine (Clupeidae) and shrimp.  Threadfin seabream (Nemiperidae) have very low (<5kg/ha) production levels.


9.4.10            Of the fishes with moderate to high yields caught in the Assessment Area, rabbit fish are fast-growing fishes of relatively low commercial value. Seabream are typically of medium commercial value.


9.4.11            Based on annual adult fish and fry production figures, the dollar value of catches was regarded as moderate (HK$2,000 – 5,000/ha/yr) at inner Junk Bay. Waters at outer Junk Bay are generally considered to be of greater importance to the fishing industry having moderate – high value (HK$5,000 – 10,000/ha/yr) in comparison with other fishing grounds in Hong Kong.


Culture Fisheries


9.4.12            Marine culture fisheries are present in the region of the project works in waters outside Junk Bay off the northwest coast of Tung Lung Chau.  The Tung Lung Chau FCZ is a fisheries sensitive receiver and would be located about 6 km from the project works.


9.4.13            As at 20th Febraury 2005, the Tung Lung Chau FCZ consisted of 58 licensed rafts with a total licensed area of 12,234 m2. A total of 58 licenses have been issued to operators at this FCZ.


9.4.14            Although no figures are available on the individual production of these FCZs, it is known that Hong Kong production in 2004 totalled 1,540 tonnes. The fish species commonly cultured in FCZs are of high commercial value including the orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides), giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus), mangrove snapper (Lutjanus argentimaculatus) and the pompano (Trachinotus blochii).


Fisheries Importance


9.4.15            Based on the information presented above, the fisheries within the Assessment Area are considered to range from low to moderate value and importance to the Hong Kong fishery. 


9.4.16            Low to moderate catches in inner Junk Bay and moderate to high catches in outer Junk Bay waters as compared with other Hong Kong fishing grounds are dominated by fish species of low commercial value often sold as fish feed in mariculture. These waters attract a relatively low to moderate level of capture fishing operations.   There is one fish culture zone located in adjacent waters at Tung Kung Chau.


9.5                    Environmental Impact Identification, Prediction and Evaluation


Construction Phase


9.5.1                Potential impacts on fisheries resources arising from Project would be direct loss of fishing ground at inner Junk Bay. Impacts may also arise indirectly through deterioration in water quality, particularly due to release of sediments into the water column during dredging.

Loss of fishing grounds


9.5.2                The reclamation for the WCR is considered to be of a relatively moderate scale and would result in the permanent loss of approximately 16.3 ha of fishing ground due to WCR reclamation and a further 0.2ha of fishing ground due to construction of piers for CBL.


9.5.3                Due to the generally low importance of the fishing area in inner Junk Bay to the Hong Kong fishery and the low production at this area, the direct impact of the project on fisheries resources and operations was regarded as low.


Effects of suspended sediments


9.5.4                Temporary elevation in suspended sediment (SS) during dredging works of Phase 1 WCR reclamation is identified as a potential impact on water quality for primary consideration because at high levels sediment may cause injury to fisheries resources.  For instance, high SS levels may clog gill structures and hinder transfer of oxygen. Eggs and early life stages (fry) are more susceptible to smothering of respiratory surfaces due to high sediment levels. Susceptibility generally decreases with age, so that adult fishes are the least sensitive to effects from sediments. Suspended sediment fluxes occur naturally in the marine environment, particularly in estuaries, and consequently fish have evolved behavioural adaptations to tolerate increased SS loads, including clearing their gills by flushing more water over them. Where SS levels become excessive, fish may move to less turbid waters.


9.5.5                Based on water quality model predictions taking into account the recommended deployment of silt curtains, the suspension of sediment into the water column by dredging is not expected to have a significant impact on fisheries resources.


9.5.6                Tung Lung Chau FCZ is located approximately 6km away from the proposed project.  It is predicted that elevations in SS at this, the only fisheries sensitive receiver, would be negligible and would not result in adverse impacts on cultured fish.


Decrease in dissolved oxygen concentrations


9.5.7                The relationship between SS and DO are complex, with increased SS in the water column combining with a number of other effects to reduce DO concentrations in the water column.  Elevated SS reduces light penetration, lowers the rate of photosynthesis by phytoplankton and thus lowers the rate of oxygen production in the water column.  Elevated sediment can also cause increased energy retention from sunlight, resulting in higher temperatures, and hence the potential for lower oxygen levels (because oxygen is more soluble in colder water).  Low oxygen has a particularly adverse effect on the eggs and larvae of fish, as at these stages of development, high levels of oxygen in the water are required for growth due to high metabolic rates.


9.5.8                Based on the water quality modelling results presented in Section 5, there are not expected to be significant reductions in DO levels which could impact fisheries resources.


Operation Phase


9.5.9                No impacts on fisheries resources are expected during the operation phase of the project.


Cumulative Assessment


9.5.10            No concurrent project in the Assessment Area was identified that would give rise to cumulative impacts on fisheries. Hence, no impacts to fisheries beyond those identified and evaluated in the assessment for this Project are expected.


9.6                    Mitigation of Adverse Environmental Impacts


9.6.1                According to the EIAO TM, the order of priority for mitigating impacts should be avoidance, minimisation and compensation.

9.6.2                Dredging, reclamation and marine construction activities incorporate constraints that serve as appropriate mitigation to control environmental impacts to with acceptable levels.  Since no unacceptable adverse impacts on fisheries are predicted, there would be no need for fisheries-specific mitigation measures.  The mitigation measures recommended in Section 5 of this EIA Report for controlling water quality would serve also to protect fisheries from indirect impacts and ensure no unacceptable impact on fisheries resources and operations.


9.7                    Evaluation of Residual Impacts


9.7.1                Based on the above assessment, the residual impact of the project would be limited to loss of approximately 16.5ha of fishing ground in Junk Bay. This loss is not expected to impact production by the Hong Kong fishery as a whole.


9.8                    Environmental Monitoring and Audit


9.8.1                Actual impacts from dredging operations during the construction phase would be monitored through an EM&A programme (see the separate EM&A Manual).  Monitoring and audit activities for detecting and mitigating any unacceptable impact on water quality would also serve to protect fisheries resources.  Specific EM&A activities to assess the effects of the project on commercial fisheries resources are not deemed necessary.




Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (2003). Port Survey 2001/2002


Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (2004).  Fisheries. http://www.afcd.gov.hk


ERM (1998). Fisheries Resources and Fishing Operations in Hong Kong Waters. Report commissioned by AFD.