World renowned Marine Scientist says more marine reserves are needed if fish stocks in Hong Kong are to recover

Posted 21 September 2007
21 Sep 2007
Pioneering marine scientist Dr Bill Ballantine says that Hong Kong should create a system of marine reserves. This is necessary for the conservation of Hong Kong’s wealth of marine life and for the benefit of the future generations.

Dr Bill Ballantine was speaking at a corporate membership award presentation ceremony organized by WWF to thank corporate sponsors for supporting its environmental initiatives.

Mr Edward Yau, the newly appointed Secretary for the Environment also attended the event.

Dr Ballantine, shared his experience in setting up New Zealand’s first marine reserve at Leigh. Prior to its establishment there were few visitors but after the successful return of marine life thanks to the fishing ban, it has become a major attraction (300,000 people per annum). This led to economic benefits for the local community (estimated by local government at NZ$12 million per year).

"Given this, there is now an acceptance that the setting up of no-take marine reserve is the best way forward for both the marine environment and the people who live in the area surrounding it," said Dr Ballantine.

WWF launched the "SOS – Save Our Seas campaign," in Hong Kong in 2005 aimed at reviving Hong Kong’s fish stocks by establishing no-take zones and banning fishing in marine reserve. It has initially called for 10% of Hong Kong waters to be declared fishing free.

Dr Ballantine commented, "We need 10% of all marine habitats in fully-protected marine reserves for education and recreation. For effective conservation of marine life, we need at least 20%. For maximum benefits to fisheries, this should be at least 30%. In areas of very intensive use, such as Hong Kong, I would recommend 50%."

"My experience of establishing a marine reserve is that the people who strongly reject the idea in the first instance become keen supporters as they see the full range of marine life, improvements in fish stocks, and an increase in recreational and educational opportunities," said Dr Ballantine.

Apart from receiving important messages from Dr Bill Ballantine on how to restore Hong Kong’s
fish stocks, WWF corporate members were also asked to make a commitment to reducing their company’s carbon footprint.

"WWF started a Climate Programme in Hong Kong last September in an effort to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, by engaging individuals and the corporate community. The response has been very encouraging; many companies who have been approached have indicated a desire to undertake programmes to reduce their footprints," remarked Mr Markus Shaw, Chairman, WWF Hong Kong.

The WWF Corporate Membership Programme was launched in 2000 to engage the business community and seek donations for the mounting of programmes to help conserve our natural environment.

Five categories of corporate membership have been offered to the business community, namely Double Diamond, Diamond, Gold, Pearl and Silver Memberships based on the level of donation. The programme now actively engages 97 members. Total funds raised this year amounted to HK$6 million.

"We appreciate the continuous support of the corporate community to WWF. This community plays a very important role in shaping our future world. Good and environmental friendly corporate practices will help make our world a better place in which to live. All sectors of society need to work together to enhance our quality of living," said Mr Eric Bohm, CEO, WWF Hong Kong.

"We are obliged to leave a living planet with fresh air and healthy waters for future generations and we all need to work together to achieve this objective," concluded Mr Bohm.

About WWF

Established in 1961, WWF's goal is to stop environmental degradation and to build a future where people live in harmony with nature. WWF was established in Hong Kong in 1981 and implements a wide range of focused conservation and environmental education programmes in Hong Kong and Mainland China.


21 Sep 2007
© WWF HK Enlarge
21 Sep 2007
© WWF HK Enlarge