talk back

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should the AFCD be split to end a conflict of interest?

Yes, the AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) should be split to end the conflict of interest between the development of now depleted fisheries and the conservation of the marine environment. A conflict of this magnitude in a business environment would lead to legal action.

The last two lines of Simon Parry's article ('Misguided policies' blamed for depleted fish stocks, April 25) mentions the AFCD conducted 'fish restocking through a fish fry releasing trial'. Almost every evening I stroll along Sai Kung Town Pier. On looking over the side I see hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of fish fry. Are these the fry introduced by the AFCD?

I suspect not, in which case these fish have hatched naturally, but where did they come from? I rarely see any fish of significant size caught by recreational anglers in Sai Kung. Most of these 'sportsmen' are catching fish around 5cm or 6cm long.

The point is that the fish fry never seem to grow into anything large and I wonder, is this because recreational anglers are allowed to take juvenile fish that ought to be returned to the sea? Is it also perhaps because people are allowed to wade through the shallows at low tide using fine-meshed nets to capture as many living organisms as possible? Is it because people are allowed to fish with rods and nets in areas where fry have been released?

Parts of Hong Kong's coastline like the mangrove areas ought to be a paradise for responsible sports fishermen. As a keen fisherman myself, I have nothing against people enjoying the sport but here in Hong Kong there is no sense of responsibility, no environmental/ecological conscience and no commitment to sustainable recreational fishing, let alone commercial fishing. Fishing in Hong Kong's reservoirs requires a licence and so should fishing in coastal waters. The reservoir licence is laughably cheap at $24 for three years and should be increased. For both reservoirs and coastal waters, an annual licence fee of $500 is not unreasonable. For saltwater fishing, the fee should go towards a conservation fund. However, conservation of Hong Kong's coastal treasures needs to be managed by an organisation that is not also responsible for the management of its plunder.

Mark Ranson, Sai Kung

Q Do you think the best restaurants listing is biased against Asia?

In response to the 'World's Best Restaurant' competition being biased against Asia, I think reporter Vivienne Chow and executive chef Mango Tsang Chiu-lit need to look into the matter further before they criticise.

First, as the article points out, the magazine is based in Britain, so therefore is aiming at a western readership. Are Chow and Mr Tsang suggesting a magazine based in Asia wouldn't be somewhat Asia-centric? If they are, then they are being ridiculous.

Second, as a chef, Mr Tsang must surely be aware that restaurants are not only judged on their food, but on the whole experience. Winner Heston Blumenthal, of The Fat Duck at Bray, prides himself on the overall experience of visiting his restaurant and spends his time researching and developing new ideas for food.

Mr Blumenthal is not only a chef, but a self-taught food scientist and writer, who has addressed Nobel prize-winning scientists on the science of food and taste. His menu and techniques of preparation and serving are original and pioneering, taking in factors concerning the psychology of eating, working with the processes of taste, memory and the involvement of all five senses. It appears to me that this article was published merely to incite people to say how outrageously narrow-minded western magazines are, particularly with the throwaway remark towards the end: 'Britain, often mocked for poor food'.

The list was compiled by 600 chefs, food critics and restaurateurs from around the world and even those who question the somewhat western focus agree that The Fat Duck is the world's best restaurant. Overall, I found the report to be flippant, under-researched and somewhat bitter.

Name and address supplied

Q Should anti-discrimination laws cover gays?

It continues to amaze and disappoint me how, in this modern day and age, religious groups that wield so much influence and profess to hold such high ideals can discriminate against a large group of people - sexual minorities - on the basis that their god is sanctioning their prejudice.

Is legislation necessary? Relying on the good graces of our citizenry certainly won't see the eradication of discrimination, particularly when some folks keep seeing this as a sexual issue. It isn't. It's a matter of emotional orientation as well as identity.

Homosexuality has always existed to some extent within every society and, while it may not be the practice of the majority, characterising it as unnatural only serves to demonise and isolate members of sexual minorities.

Of course, there is tremendous hypocrisy around this issue. The Catholic Church labels sexual minorities as sinners, and yet it has relied on gay men to enter the priesthood and run away from their identities. If churches feel the need to express prejudice against a group - free speech, I think they call it - and discriminate against somebody, let them do so against those who practise hypocrisy, sanctimony and outdated thinking.

Dor Arie, Tin Shui Wai