Fishing fleet protests over dredging compensation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2001, 12:00am

Fishermen aboard more than 200 boats protested in Victoria Harbour yesterday over compensation levels for dredging on the Disney and Container Terminal 9 projects.

The fishermen said their livelihoods were also being put at risk by proposals to set up a marine park where fishing would be banned off the Soko Islands, south of Lantau.

To Kwong-biu, spokesman for Hong Kong Fishery Alliance, said there was no point in setting up the park because the area was already contaminated by poisonous mud.

He said the proposal to build artificial reefs near Shelter Island, off Sai Kung, would encounter similar problems.

'Also, the rough surface of artificial reefs would possibly damage the underside of our vessels. All these things can affect our income,' said Mr To.

He attacked the way compensation claims for fisherman affected by dredging for the Disney project at Penny's Bay and Container Terminal 9, off Lantau, had been assessed.

'Owners of vessels shorter than 15 metres can receive up to $800,000. But larger vessels' owners are only given $40,000 maximum. The amount of compensation should be directly proportional to the boat's length,' Mr To said.

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said owners of smaller vessels were given more compensation because they relied entirely on local fish resources. 'Larger vessels could sail further. However, these fishermen can still ask for higher compensation when their fish catches are proved to originate from local areas,' said the spokeswoman.