WWF calls on Government to implement Marine Spatial Planning Approach | WWF Hong Kong

WWF calls on Government to implement Marine Spatial Planning Approach

29 August 2018

The ongoing five-month public consultation launched by the government’s Task Force on Land Supply proposed marine reclamation as one of the options to solve the city’s housing needs, a claim that is exaggerated as the major uses of land under the “5 plus 1” proposal are industrial, leisure and sports. WWF-Hong Kong reiterates that reclamation should be the last resort, and is calling on the government to implement coastal and marine spatial planning prior to any development or reclamation plan. 
Samantha Lee, Assistant Director, Ocean Conservation, WWF-Hong Kong said, “According to the ‘5 plus 1’ reclamation proposal, only part of the land at Siu Ho Wan, Ma Liu Shui and Central waters will be for residential use, the rest will be for industrial, leisure and sports purposes. Furthermore, the public has no information on the ratio between public and private housing or how many housing units will be allocated for grass roots families. Reclamation is a long process that takes roughly 10-20 years. If the government wants to address the immediate housing needs, developing brownfield sites that already have the necessary transport facilities or infrastructure in place is the real solution.”
Lung Kwu Tan, one of the most controversial sites in the "5 plus 1" proposal, is one of the habitats of the Chinese white dolphin. Its natural coastline is also a breeding ground for various marine species, and reclamation will bring irreversible ecological damage. Currently the Hong Kong government has no planning mechanism to utilize the marine resources strategically, leading to conflict between conservation and development. Marine spatial planning involves a baseline assessment of coastal and marine environments, which helps determine compatible and incompatible uses and  define which areas are best suited for conservation protection and those which may be suitable for development use. The government should make reference to the land planning, and immediately implement a planning exercise for proper usage of our sea. MSP is a robust public process that helps analyze and allocate the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in the most appropriate way to minimize conflicts and find synergies among sectors. Economic benefits include reduces transaction costs, improve certainty and predictability for government or private investment, and enhance attractiveness of coastal regions.
Samantha added, “Implementation of MSP could reduce conflicts and disputes between development and conservation. MSP is widely adopted by other countries such as USA and Belgium, and is essential to identify and manage current and future sea uses in a way that best meets the priorities and goals among various stakeholders. MSP takes as little as three years to complete.” 
WWF and local stakeholders, including fishermen, Lung Kwu Tan residents, conservationists and members of marine recreation business sectors signed a joint letter to government and Task Force to raise their concerns of the detrimental environmental and social consequences caused by land reclamation.