Marine Department promises review amid shortage of mooring space

With lack of berths driving up rents and illegal moorings, Marine Department promises review

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 5:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 5:14am

Community pressure over Hong Kong's chronic shortage of mooring spaces, which has put the cost of boat ownership beyond the means of all but the most wealthy, has prompted a government review.

Industry representatives warn that the shortage - estimated at about 10,000 spaces - is forcing skippers to berth illegally, while competition for available legal spaces has caused rents to double.

The Marine Department has promised to launch a review of the berth situation within two months.

The department is to appoint consultants in May, with the review to be completed by the middle of next year.

According to tender specifications, the review will survey existing supply and demand for the spaces and make projections up to 2030, taking into account development plans. It will also look at whether more sheltered berths are needed, analyse occupancy levels at popular moorings and collect views from industry figures and the public.

There are more than 15,000 fishing and leisure boats in the city, but the number of moorings is estimated to be less than 5,000.

Baggy Sartape, of Asia Boating in Aberdeen, said the rent for a mooring space had doubled in the past five years.

A berthing space at a private marina cost between HK$50,000 and HK$80,000 per month, he said.

Sartape said some owners had taken to berthing two vessels on one mooring, while others sublet berths, despite both practices being illegal.

He estimated that the number of boats increased 10 per cent each year, but said the last private moorings created were the 33 established 11 years ago in Cheung Sha Lan, Lantau.

"Now, even if you are rich, you may not be able to find a sublet space, simply because there are no more," he said.

He called on the government to create more mooring spaces, which would bring the rents down and enable more people to enjoy boating.

Southern District councillor Paul Zimmerman suggested the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter could be expanded to provide more mooring spaces.

This would alleviate pressure on berths, while creating job and business opportunities, Zimmerman said.

The district council is to discuss the issue tomorrow.