A major milestone was achieved on May 18, when Legco accepted legislative changes to ban trawling in Hong Kong waters. This ban is needed to revitalise our seas for the benefit of the whole of Hong Kong, especially the long-ignored and beleaguered fishing community.
The next important milestone is tomorrow when Legco's finance committee decides whether to accept the steps and overall finance package needed to ensure the ban is successful.
Protests by offshore trawlers, in the harbour on May 15, and objections by other related industries such as ice providers have confused the main issue. The fact remains that our fishing community is in terminal decline, we are no longer in control of our supply of seafood and our marine life is at the point of no return. A full implementation of a ban on trawling, which has proved very successful in other countries, is needed now to redress the situation.
We understand that the affected fishermen will need wide support, and it is coming from the government and from businesses and green groups, such as Living Seas Hong Kong and WWF. With a ban on trawling and with government support there is real promise for jobs and new businesses in the marine sector, especially in the areas of eco-tourism, pleasure boats, recreational fishing, sustainable fishing and aquaculture.
Conservation efforts do not mean that people will necessarily be negatively affected, as new, exciting opportunities will open up. Finance committee members must ensure a vibrant future for our marine life and for the fishing industry in Hong Kong with a 'yes' vote. Any delays or indecision at this point could really be the final nail in the coffin.
David O'Dwyer, Living Seas Hong Kong