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Sharp Island & Shelter Island

© Kelvin Yuen

Conservation Significance

Sharp Island and Shelter Island have a high diversity of hard coral species (over 46 out of 84) and at least 169 species
of marine fish such as the endangered threadfin porgy, the vulnerable spotted seahorse and the locally-rare sargassum fish. Of those, over 35 are locally rare, endangered or vulnerable.  Shelter Island is a fishery spawning and nursery ground. In 2009, the Country and Marine Park Board produced a draft map of Sharp and Shelter islands marine park covering an area of 198.5 and 138.3 hectares, respectively. In 2012, a policy framework for a Fisheries Protection Area (FPA) was released, with Port Shelter as a potential site.

Threats

This rocky habitat is frequented by recreational and commercial fishers, with cage trapping a common fishing method. Nighttime squid jigging also poses concerns. Sharp Island is a hotspot for recreational activities and receives hikers, beachgoers, snorkelers, divers and licensed spearfishers. Despite no anchoring areas at the main coral sites, with the terrestrial areas designated as
a country park and geopark, the marine life at Port Shelter still faces threats, including breakage of coral by careless divers, water pollution and marine litter (including ghost nets), introduction of non-local species by mercy release and fishing activities (both commercial and recreational).

Suggested Conservation Measures

● Designate the entire Port Shelter area as a marine protected area to restore fisheries resources. Designate no-take zones of at least 30%.
●  Prohibit non-selective fishing practices, including trammel nets and snake cages and implement a log book system to collect information such as method, catch size, composition and location.
●  Regulate recreational activities such as scuba diving, implement a code of conduct and set-up practice zones for beginner divers to minimise disturbance to coral communities.
●  Work with academics, fishermen, local community, village leaders and NGOs to adopt a co-management approach.
●  Forbid mercy release in proximity to the boundary of the FPA (e.g. 500 meters).