All live fish wholesalers will be licensed in an effort to improve seafood hygiene, it was announced yesterday.
Director of Food and Environment Hygiene Gregory Leung Wing-lup said the government had been discussing the plan with wholesalers at Fish Marketing Organisation markets and Lau Fau Shan, a famous fishing settlement in Yuen Long.
Mr Leung did not lay out a timetable during his speech to Legco's panel on food safety and environmental hygiene yesterday.
The news comes after the government tasked the semi-independent organisation with managing the Aberdeen fish market when cholera was found in one stall. All 18 stalls at the market had been issued with conditional food permits, Mr Leung said.
Permit holders will regularly have the quality of their water tested and may lose their permits if they fail to meet standards.
'The government plans to expand the licensing scheme to all live fish wholesale stalls across the territory to protect public health,' he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Leung said his department was looking for ways to improve the business conditions at wet market stalls, which are facing strong competition from supermarkets.
Mr Leung added that the department was also keen to improve hygiene at restaurants and food processing plants, as 12,400 of the 16,000 outlets and factories across the city were classified as posing a medium or high risk.
Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong told the panel the government did not have a long-term policy on wet market management. This is despite warnings from virologists that keeping live poultry at the markets would continue to expose the city to high risk.
His deputy, Eddy Chan yuk-tak, said the government was considering turning the waters in the south and east of Hong Kong island into protection zones for conserving local fish stocks during closed seasons for fishing.