Chief executive missed golden opportunity to save our waters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 November, 2009, 12:00am

The chief executive missed a golden opportunity to do something truly amazing for the environment in his policy address.

He unfortunately passed on creating a legacy for his term, and for our ocean, by declaring an end to trawling in all of Hong Kong's waters. He has recently received hundreds of letters supporting the government's proposed ban on trawling and hopefully the public will continue writing calling for an end to this highly destructive practice.

Instead, he talked of training fishermen for sustainable fishing, and promised to finally put a halt to fishing in marine parks, which is like allowing hunting in a zoo. It is impossible to have sustainable fishing, however, when there is nothing left to sustain.

Our biggest natural resource, Hong Kong's waters, are effectively dead in commercial fishing terms. Every day that trawling is allowed, there is one less day for hope. Every day trawlers ply our seas, it is the same as bulldozers ploughing across our hillside, adding a new layer of cement along the way, making sure that nothing will survive in their tracks. The ocean is owned by all of us and it is time that we all treated it that way. By stopping trawling the ocean will rebuild itself in a remarkably short amount of time, as has been proved in many other countries.

Small shellfish will be allowed to grow adding natural filtration to our waters, something today which does not exist.

This would also complement our efforts to finally deal with our poor history of sewage treatment. It would also bring our ocean back to a state of livelihood that would generate all kinds of opportunities for tourism, recreation, and improved living conditions around our most precious resource - our surrounding waters.

It is now the time to treat our ocean as an asset, instead of a sink and a place to pillage and neglect. The benefits would be substantial for the entire city, including the fishermen who would have multiple opportunities to be involved in higher income marine tourism and recreation jobs. Why was such a big opportunity missed?

Douglas Woodring, Mid-Levels