Help urged for fish farmers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am

A lawmaker wants the government to offer more help to fishermen who suffered huge losses when tonnes of fish died during the cold spell.

Wong Yung-kan, who represents the agriculture and fisheries sectors in the legislature, said he hoped a meeting with officials could be arranged for this week to sort out the matter.

'It is a natural disaster. The fishermen did not kill the fish themselves. The government should give the affected fishermen more support, say, offering them unsecured loans,' Mr Wong said.

Last week, fishermen in 14 fish culture zones reported their farms had been devastated by the cold weather.

They said fish had become sluggish on February 4 and started dying at the beginning of the Lunar New Year, with losses estimated at millions of dollars.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said affected fishermen could register with the department for grants from the emergency relief fund from today until February 26.

The length of the cold spell this year probably will not break the record set in 1968, as temperatures are expected to climb gradually this week.

A scientific officer at the Observatory, Lee Kwok-lun, said the current run of chilly weather, which began on January 24, was the longest one since 1968, but it had not yet lasted long enough to break the record set that year.

'The number of cold days - with a minimum temperature of 12 degrees Celsius or less - was 27 days in 1968,' he said. 'This year, the number of cold days was only 24 by Saturday.'

Yesterday, the cold-weather warning had been in force for 25 days, but today's minimum is expected to be 13 degrees, ending the city's record-challenging run. And Mr Lee said the weather was expected to be warmer this week.

'Temperatures will gradually climb, with the maximum temperature reaching 18 degrees this week, and the weather will be rainy at the weekend,' he said.