Marine Protected Areas in Hong Kong lack effective management WWF calls for sustainable marine conservation to cover 10pc of HK waters on World Oceans Day | WWF Hong Kong

Marine Protected Areas in Hong Kong lack effective management WWF calls for sustainable marine conservation to cover 10pc of HK waters on World Oceans Day

08 June 2017

This year marks the 20th year after the first batch of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) were designated in Hong Kong. Working in tandem with the Simon F.S. Li Marine Science Laboratory, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, WWF-Hong Kong conducted the first evaluation of the effectiveness of existing MPAs, including one marine reserve and four marine parks, and found numerous shortcomings:
  • No clear target or date for future total MPA areas
  • Lack of well-founded scientific guiding principles for MPA management
  • No transparent long-term MPA “health check” data
  • No proactive MPA selection process
  • Minimal stakeholder (academics, fishermen, conservationists) involvement
  • Fishing with permits is still allowed in MPA
Meanwhile, WWF commissioned the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong to conduct an opinion poll regarding the health of Hong Kong’s marine environment and public views on MPA and interviewed 1,558 Hongkongers by phone from October to December 2016. The results show that over 80 per cent of interviewees agree there should be more MPAs designated in Hong Kong, and 75 per cent of interviewees support 10 per cent of Hong Kong waters to be designated as MPA to meet the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target. Also, 78 per cent of interviewees support regulating or banning of commercial fishing in marine parks, and 96 per cent of interviewees think stringent enforcement should be implemented in MPA, such as combating illegal fishing.
Both above-mentioned initiatives were part of WWF’s latest study, the Marine Health Check and the result was launched today on World Oceans Day today to reflect the “health condition” of Hong Kong’s marine environment. The study also revealed that habitat destruction from reclamation and development, overfishing from unregulated fishing practices, disturbance from escalating marine traffic and marine litter are among the major threats risking our marine life. Some common species in the past are now rarely seen or under threat, including the Green Turtle, Chinese White Dolphin, Hard Coral, Chinese Bahaba and the Horseshoe Crab.
“Well managed MPA has proven to be a solution to improve our oceans’ health,” said Samantha Lee, WWF-Hong Kong’s Conservation Manager for Oceans. “The next government should listen to people’s opinions to designate 10 per cent of our waters as MPA with timelines and potential locations for habitat and species protection by 2020 and 30 per cent by 2030. We also ask the government to formulate conservation plans with a clear vision and solid timeframes for all marine ecological hotspots in Hong Kong, and put in place an open, transparent and long-term monitoring programme for the marine environment and MPA.”
“WWF is exploring and investigating suitable conservation management measures for marine ecological hotspots, through robust threat revision and early involvement of stakeholders. We need to safeguard the future of our valuable marine species and habitats before it is too late.”   Lam Yin-ha, WWF-Hong Kong’s Senior Conservation Officer for Marine added.
WWF will share the results of the Marine Health Check with related government bodies and stakeholders for policy lobbying. The result is also available on WWF-Hong Kong’s website. The organization is now undertaking an exercise in reviewing all 31 marine ecological hotspots to make recommendations on which 10 per cent of Hong Kong waters be designated as MPA, and the result will be ready to share by the end of 2017.
WWF’s Marine Health Check Report:
Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park
© Adam Minu / WWF-Hong Kong
Tung Ping Chau Marine Park
© Patrick Yeung