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Tolo Channel and Harbour

© Kelvin Yuen

Conservation Significance

Tolo Bay yields a high diversity of species. Port Island (Chek Chau) and Hoi Ha Wan harbour 60% of local hard coral species, and over 153 fishes, including the endangered Hong Kong grouper. Tolo has the largest mangrove coverage in eastern waters. Ting Kok and nearby Lung Mei support over 300 marine species including a newly-discovered endemic tree-climbing micro-crab, the vulnerable spotted seahorse and five species of starfish.
The inshore area is essential to support both resident and migratory species and Sham Chung is a nesting site for the protected white-bellied sea eagle.
Several sites have been previously assigned for conservation priority. Tolo has been suggested for designation as an FPA.

Threats

The eastern and southern coastline are entirely reclaimed. Because of a semi- enclosed harbour that reduces seawater circulation, domestic and industrial sewage accumulate within the inshore harbour. Tolo has Hong Kong’s highest frequency of red tide events, which deplete oxygen and cause massive biomass and economic loss. Fishing pressure is high for the juvenile fish, crabs, urchins, sea cucumbers, bivalves and gastropods. The inner bays and outer islands are hotspots for hikers, scuba divers, snorkelers and kayakers. Hundreds of visitors can be seen digging clams and disturbing marine life, especially during weekends. Marine litter
occurs both on shore and underwater.

Suggested Conservation Measures

● Designate Tolo Harbour as a marine protected area with no-take zones covering at least 30% of the total area.
●  Set up a code of conduct for recreational activities, designate conservation management zoning (e.g. at Ting Kok), allowing regulated clam digging only in the outer zone.
●  Provide public facilities to attract and accommodate visitors.
●  Implement a log book system to collect fishing information, prohibit non-selective fishing practices such as trammel nets and snake cages and mercy release activities in proximity to the boundary of the FPA (e.g. 500 meters).
●  Work with academics, fishermen, local community, village leaders and NGOs to adopt a co-management approach.