Shui Hau MPA | WWF Hong Kong

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Shui Hau

© Kelvin Yuen

Conservation Significance

Shui Hau Wan comprises a variety ofmcoastal habitats, including mangroves, intertidal sand and mud flats, and boulder and rocky shores, supporting over 180 species6. Shui Hau has a terrestrial Coastal Protection Area
but the inter-tidal zone receives no protection. The intertidal soft shore is an important spawning and nursery ground for juvenile Chinese horseshoe crabs which spend 10 years on the muddy shore, migrating into the sea when they reach sexual maturity.
The estuary that flows through the mangroves along the southern coast is a nursery for juvenile fishes, including commercially valuable species (i.e. families sparidae, sillaginidae, mugilidae and lutjanidae).

Threats

Shui Hau Wan faces high levels of disturbance from recreational activities such as paragliding and clam digging on the intertidal mudflats. Unregulated clam digging is a serious concern, can lead to juvenile horseshoe crabs being trampled
and may change the composition and density of the benthic community structure and the availability of prey (such as polychaete). Large Asiatic hard clam have all but disappeared due to this unsustainable activity. The litter
left behind by clam diggers pollutes the environment, and increases the chance of animals being entangled and killed. Shui Hau was listed a marine refuse priority site in 2015.

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Suggested Conservation Measures

● Designate Shui Hau Wan as a Marine Protected Area with zoning that give
the most ecologically sensitive area strict protection and allows regulated activities in the outer zone.

● Establish a highly protected area for the horseshoe crab, including long-term monitoring and restoration programme 

● Implement fishery plans to control gleaning activities, including clamming. Consider measures such as official adoption of a clam digging code of conduct, minimum harvesting size at ecologically sensitive mudlfats like Shui Hau. Regularly monitor changes in the marine resouces community

● Adopt a co-management approach, provide public facilities (eg boardwalk on mudflats and educational signs).

● Develop marine litter source reduction strategies, arrange weekly clean-ups to ensure the cleanliness of the mangrove and wetland environment.