WWF calls for no-fishing zones

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2005, 12:00am

WWF Hong Kong yesterday urged the government to set up no-take zones in local waters to protect diminishing fish species.

The call came as the group launched its second Big Fish Count in a bid to raise funds and public awareness of marine conservation issues.

WWF will next week announce comprehensive proposals and set the government targets on local fish species.

This year's Big Fish Count will be held on October 2, with certified scuba divers forming groups of four to six people to count the number of species they see. The team that identifies the highest number of species will win the top prize.

Each team is allowed up to three dives during an eight-hour period in the eastern waters of Hong Kong.

The information will be put into a database for research.

Last year, 152 fish species were recorded, with the University of Hong Kong team winning with 91 species.

WWF member and contest adjudicator Andy Cornish said fish populations were in poor health due to threats such as overfishing and pollution.

He called on the government to expand marine parks and outlaw all fishing activities within the reserves.

'No-take zones quite simply provide havens where fish and other animals can grow and reproduce undisturbed, not only allowing recovery inside the zone, but also replenishing stocks outside,' he said.

There are about 1,000 fish species recorded in Hong Kong, but the city's four marine parks only cover 2 per cent of local waters. The only reserve that bans fishing is in Cape D'Aguilar, which accounts for 0.02 per cent of Hong Kong waters.

The government is proposing laws to set up fish-protection zones in Tolo Harbour and Sai Kung.