Call for island typhoon shelter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2007, 12:00am

Peng Chau fishermen say they have been forced to anchor in rough seas because of a shortage of typhoon shelter space near the island.

The fishermen, who organised a petition yesterday to press the government to build a shelter off the island, accused authorities of paying inadequate attention to development of the fishing industry.

There is no shelter on Peng Chau, even though the island is home to one of Hong Kong's major fishing communities.

Many local fishermen have to pay HK$140 a day for an anchorage at the private Discovery Bay shelter on Lantau. However, with the growing number of yachts anchored there it has become more difficult for the fishermen to secure space. Discussions between Peng Chau fishermen and marine officials on the construction of a new typhoon shelter on the island have been dragging on for years but no progress has been made.

Lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, who supports the fishermen, said: 'On windy days, many fishermen cannot find a safe shelter but anchor in the middle of rough seas. It is very dangerous.'

Mr Chan, from the League of Social Democrats, said building a typhoon shelter could also help attract more tourists to Peng Chau, and thus help develop the island, which is about 2km south of Hong Kong Disneyland.

'The government is indirectly killing the local economy of Peng Chau by refusing to build a proper shelter there,' he said.

Lawmaker Wong Yung-kan, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sector, said there was a shortage of typhoon shelter space in Hong Kong because much of it was occupied by mainland barges.

He blamed the government for imposing tough restrictions on fishing boats using shelters. Citing the shelter in Aberdeen, he said vessels longer than 110 feet had to obtain consent from the authorities before being allowed to anchor there.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department says there are about 9,200 fishermen in Hong Kong, with about 4,100 fishing vessels.

The Marine Department did not respond to a request for comment.




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