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West Lantau

© Kelvin Yuen

Conservation Significance


The natural rocky coastline provides estuarine habitats to over 180 fish species and is a spawning and nursery ground for many commercially important fish and crustacean species. West (Tai O) and southwest Lantau (Fan Lau) are the only remaining core habitats of the Chinese white dolphin, whose numbers dropped more than 70 per cent from 2003-2019. The endemic Chinese bahaba, once abundant, now faces extinction. Adult mangrove horseshoe crabs are found at Yi O. Southwest Lantau Marine Park was designated in 2020. Expanding reclamation works and high-speed marine traffic have increased stress on the Chinese white dolphin at the northern part of its range.

Threats

Expanding reclamation work and hi-speed marine traffic has increased stress on the Chinese white dolphin at the northern part of its range. Pressure from development and marine traffic is relatively low in western Lantau. Tai O is a popular dolphin watching spot, which can increase stress levels and disrupt socializing, feeding or resting behavior. Water pollution from Pearl River discharge may lead to bioaccumulation of heavy metal and organic pollutants in dolphins and other species. There is greater potential for an influx of marine litter during the wet season. Illegal fishing is serious in western and northern Lantau

Suggested Conservation Measures

●  Designate a Dolphin Conservation Management Area by 2024 covering all critical dolphin foraging habitat off south and west Lantau, creating a protected corridor for Chinese white dolphins, helping fisheries recovery and encouraging sustainable use of resources; 
● Stringently regulate marine traffic and other major human activities within the Dolphin Management Area.Regulate dolphin watching activities with a statutory code of conduct.
● Regulate gillnets and ban non-selective fishing methods using trammel nets and snake cages, to lower entanglement risk to marine species.
● Work with academics, fishermen, local community, village leaders and NGOs to adopt a co-management approach.
● Work with the government and fishermen to combat illegal fishing.