Trawling banned in Hong Kong waters
Fishing trawler in Hong Kong waters. © Alan Leung/WWF-Hong Kong
A long-awaited ban on trawling in Hong Kong waters came into effect on 1 January 2013 – it is hoped that the ban will increase fish numbers.
WWF-Hong Kong has been campaigning for this ban since 2005 and sees it as a bold and encouraging step taken by the government on local marine conservation.
It is hoped that populations of marine fish such as croakers and groupers will increase by 20-30% from now on. WWF has said it hopes that the Hong Kong government will continue to provide support to the affected fishers and help them switch to other livelihoods such as marine eco-tourism.
The fishing practice of trawling has resulted in catching different marine species at random and damaging the seabed over the past few decades. It is also believed to be one of the main reasons leading to the almost collapsed status of the marine ecosystem in Hong Kong. According to fisheries scientists, it was predicted that five years after the implementation of the trawling ban, populations of squid and cuttlefish would increase by 40% and reef fish by 10-20%.
In the long term, it is believed that the increase in fish catch will result in the stability of supply and quality of local seafood, and the public will also be able to enjoy a healthier marine environment.
Responding to the argument that trawling ban may impact the livelihoods of fishermen, Samantha Lee, senior conservation officer, marine of WWF-Hong Kong stated that, “WWF has been actively engaging with fishing communities, marine related business operators and the government for one year. We believe that developing marine eco-tourism would unlock the potential of the sea and provide viable alternative livelihoods for the fishermen. WWF also urges the government to continue to help the affected fishers to switch jobs, consult the relevant stakeholders and formulate a holistic policy towards sustainable marine eco-tourism.”
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