8,000 vessels won't have shelter during typhoons, study finds

Marine industry alarmed by bureau study that shows huge shortfall in the number of shelters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 May, 2013, 5:03am

The full extent of the crisis caused by a lack of boat moorings has been revealed, with new government figures showing nearly 8,000 vessels will be without safe haven as the typhoon season approaches.

The marine industry has expressed alarm at the Development Bureau figures.

The shortfall became apparent after a comparison was made between the number of private and marina club moorings available and the number of registered pleasure vessels.

Industry members have appealed to the transport minister for help, but the Marine Department says that there is enough supply to meet demand for the next 12 years.

Paul Zimmerman, a Southern District councillor and chief executive of Designing Hong Kong, said the statistics showed how dire things were as the typhoon season neared.

"Something has to be done immediately before boats are damaged and someone gets hurt. This huge shortage of moorings has also resulted in subletting of moorings at high prices," Zimmerman said.

The bureau revealed the big discrepancy at a meeting of a taskforce of the Harbourfront Commission last week.

At the end of last year, the city had 7,920 pleasure vessels and 4,103 transport and fishing vessels and open sampans.

But it had only 3,230 safe moorings.

With an industry estimate of 800 dry berths, there is still a shortfall of about 8,000.

Last week, about 100 people from an alliance of interests in pleasure boating demanded Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung tackle the shortage.

The groups included the Southern District Ship Builders Association, Designing Hong Kong, Marine Industry Association, the owners and crew of vessels and management and staff of marine operators.

The department denied there was a problem, saying its latest assessment showed the overall supply of typhoon shelters and sheltered anchorages would meet the forecast demand until 2025.

A department spokesman said that it was up to the associations and individuals to find sheltered berthing or mooring places for refuge during inclement weather.

The spokesman said it was not government policy to provide berthing spaces for local vessels in such circumstances.