Tourism fears over floating rubbish

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 12:00am

Tourists could be driven away from Aberdeen harbour unless the growing problem of floating rubbish is addressed, a sailing club has warned.

Richard Hatter, general manager of the Aberdeen Marina Club, said the club had been struggling with the problem for years and that it was getting worse.

He said the club had had at least 10 complaints a year from boat owners about the rubbish, which is believed to be generated by fishing boats in the typhoon shelter, construction sites and shipyards.

'Some boat owners say they pay a lot of money and why can't you keep the place clean. It is an ongoing battle, yet self-defeating. There is so much of it. The volume is a critical mass so great that it is an impossible task.'

Mr Hatter said the mounting rubbish problem might drive tourists away from the area and ultimately hurt the international image of Hong Kong.

'I have seen some American tourists. They were horrified by a sea of rubbish near the Jumbo Restaurant. They took pictures of it to show to their friends,' he said.

The club has installed 800 metres of nets around the dock area to keep the rubbish at bay and deployed staff to clean up regularly. On average they collect 400 litres of waste a day.

Mr Hatter said: 'We wrote five to six letters to the Marine Department. After we complain, they send a sampan with workers to pick up the rubbish for a few hours on Sunday. That's the only effort they have made.'

The club recently donated $100,000 to think-tank Civic Exchange, which is planning to start a community campaign involving the fishermen, the club, and private companies to clean up the harbour.

A spokeswoman for the Marine Department said it was using up to eight boats a day to clean up the area. She believed the problem might be aggravated by poor weather and tidal flows.

She said 30 tonnes of rubbish was collected last month, compared with 21 tonnes in March and 19 tonnes in February.