CUHK Rowing’s recent expedition raised HK$260K+ for WWF’s dolphin conservation work WWF calls for a well-designed and co-managed marine sanctuary networkWWF-Hong Kong deeply appreciates the effort of CUHK Rowing Team Alumni Association (CUHK Rowing) in raising more than HK$260K – 2.6 times their fundraising target of HK$100K – for our dolphin conservation work through the first ever round trip rowing expedition from Hong Kong to Macau entitled “Pearl River Estuary Challenge” last month.
The donation will go towards our upcoming campaigns to advocate for higher coverage of marine protected areas for Chinese white dolphins, raise public awareness, and garner relevant support from the government, fishing community and public.
Samantha Lee, WWF-Hong Kong’s Assistant Conservation Manager, Marine, is moved by all the hard work the intrepid team of 10 CUHK students and alumni invested making this 80km journey over 20 hours successfully. She said the expedition didn’t only help support our conservation work of Chinese white dolphins financially, but also raised public awareness in the plight of marine icon and the inadequate conservation measures.
“Crisscrossing the hectic estuary on small human-powered sculls, the rowers helped the public understand how dwarfed, vulnerable and stressed Chinese white dolphins feel due to human activities,” says Lee. “Every day the marine animals have to dodge high-speed ferries and construction barges, detour construction sites of the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macao Bridge while putting up with noise and water pollution.”
Thus, WWF calls for the government to step up its conservation measures for the species. Our first request is to improve the design of the Southwest Lantau Marine Park which will be designated in 2017. We urge officials to include the coastal strip near Fan Lau Sai Wan into the boundary of the Marine Park, and discuss with the fishing communities to implement fisheries enhancement measures, such as fishing moratoriums or no-take zones, within the Marine Park.
Our second demand is to establish a marine conservation network around Lantau by setting up one more marine protected area in West Lantau around Tai O to link others in North and Southwest Lantau as soon as possible.
Lee explained that the two appeals aim to create a safe haven for Chinese white dolphins, help local fishery resources recover, and engage local and fishing communities in the co-management of marine protected areas. The fishing and local communities remain open to WWF’s suggestions after preliminary discussion.
“We hope to create a win-win marine conservation network where Chinese white dolphins can enjoy an interconnected, safe and disturbance-free sanctuary, while locals and fishermen can still satisfy their daily needs and find greater appreciation and responsibility towards the oceans,” Lee concluded.
About the Pearl River Estuary Challenge
- Organizer: CUHK Rowing Team Alumni Association
- Beneficiary: WWF-Hong Kong
- Itinerary: On 17 October, the team started at Tung Chung, rowed along the Hong Kong International Airport and construction sites of the Hong Kong- Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, and landed on Hac Sa Beach in Macau where they stayed overnight; on 18 October, the crew returned to Hong Kong along the same route, and landed in Tai O
- Distance: 80km round trip
- Length: About 20 hours
- Fundraising achievement: Over HK$260KAbout Chinese white dolphins
- Approximately 61 individuals recorded within west, northeast and northwest Lantau in 2014. Around 60% decline in numbers in Hong Kong over the past decade. (Source: AFCD)
- Several hundred Chinese white dolphins use Hong Kong waters as a part of their home range. (Source: Cetacean Ecology Lab, SWIMS, HKU)
- Around 2,000 individuals inhabit in Hong Kong and Pearl River Estuary in total. (Note: Data is collected 10 years ago and is the best available one)Threats include habitat loss and degradation from coastal development such as reclamation, marine vessel disturbance and collisions, water pollution, underwater noise pollution, and prey depletion due to unregulated fishing.