Fishy business on the rise in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post
  • Thu
  • Jan 22, 2015
  • Updated: 9:38am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 April, 2014, 12:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 April, 2014, 12:29am

Fishy business on the rise in Hong Kong

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

Hong Kong has had a ban on trawling for fish since the end of 2012. It has made payments to fishermen to assist them during this ban, and many of the familiar green-hulled wooden boats have disappeared.

The writing has been on the wall for some time: fishing is a sunset industry. Yet the figures for the number of licensed fishing vessels appear to tell a different story.

In 2010, there were 5,571 fishing boats, according to the Marine Department. However, the latest figures from the department show there are now 6,536 vessels.

How can this be?

Interestingly, we see a new type of fishing boat has turned up in increasing numbers at the Aberdeen typhoon shelter. They have steel hulls that are painted blue and are made on the mainland. We are unclear whether they are registered in Hong Kong or on the mainland, or both.

Meanwhile, the Marine Department has done nothing to address the question of providing additional private moorings that can be used for pleasure boats, which over the same period have grown from 6,924 to 8,400 vessels. The department steadfastly maintains its remit is to provide shelter for vessels in the event of a typhoon, not moorings for privately owned vessels.

The Southern District council discussed the prospect of increasing the size of the Aberdeen typhoon shelter recently. However, the suspicion is that the additional space will be taken up by fishing boats and that little, if any, of the space will be for private moorings.

As we have pointed out before, the Marine Department's attitude to pleasure craft is killing the boating industry, which includes those that offer financing, insurance, maintenance and supply of the vessels.

The department's obsession with providing sheltered typhoon space was shown to be misplaced in a paper by the Hong Kong Marine Industry Association, which pointed out that between 2008 and 2010, the average utilisation of the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter during typhoons was 90 per cent, Kwun Tong 45 per cent, To Kwa Wan 54 per cent, and the occupancy for the huge 76.6 hectare Hei Ling Chau shelter was 6 per cent.

 

UnionPay again

The name UnionPay has unfortunately become indelibly associated for many people with the almost farcical events of last year which surrounded the introduction of HSBC's new automated teller machine card.

This, it will be recalled, was necessary because the Hong Kong Monetary Authority had instructed banks to replace the magnetic strip in the ATM cards with a chip.

HSBC, in its wisdom, chose to issue one card linked to UnionPay, which resulted in numerous complaints from customers who were unable to withdraw cash from locations mainly, though not exclusively, outside Asia. HSBC has since rectified the problem by issuing another card linked to the Plus payment system.

The reason we bring this up again is that we felt, in view of the somewhat negative publicity that surrounded HSBC and UnionPay, we should alert you to an offer from UnionPay which allows discounts of up to 10 per cent at duty-free shops in 60 airports around the world starting this month.

For most airports, the promotion will be for three months, but for a handful of airports - Hong Kong, London Paris, John F Kennedy and Seoul - it runs until the end of the year.

The offer only applies to cards bearing the UnionPay logo and numbers starting with 62. So take a deep breath, cross your fingers, and pray.

 

Dead end

We have neglected illegal parking in recent months but not forgotten it.

A reader reports that at most times of the day the top cul de sac stretch of Justice Drive leading to the High Court Building is full of illegally parked cars, many of which wait on double yellow lines outside the Conrad Hotel. He was recently pleasantly surprised to see a policeman ticketing cars outside the hotel. However, his elation turned to disappointment when walking towards the park nearby he saw a police van (AM 8846) illegally parked with its engine running. He urged the driver to turn off the engine since it was idling illegally. He rather shamefacedly acquiesced.

No wonder this law is never enforced.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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