World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong has urged the government to ban all trawling in local waters to protect marine habitats. This is one of several recommendations made by WWF to the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau, which is currently collecting public opinion on its proposed amendments to the Fisheries Protection Ordinance. Markus Shaw, chairman of WWF Hong Kong, said inshore trawling was extremely destructive and was banned on the mainland and in many Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. 'The intensive trawling that goes on in Hong Kong causes extensive damage to the sea bed, the habitat that nurtures fish. It simply makes no sense,' Mr Shaw said after submitting WWF's proposals to the government recently. 'Designating all Hong Kong territorial waters as a fisheries protection area would result in an outright ban on trawling and prevent our marine habitats from further degradation.' The conservation group said the SAR's current fisheries activities were unsustainable - the average weight of fish caught by trawlers was a mere 10 grams; 12 of Hong Kong's most popular species were over-exploited; and Hong Kong's biomass of fish per square metre of reef was among the lowest in the world. There was growing evidence that fully protected marine areas and fishery closures benefited a wide range of marine species, WWF said. It has urged the government to designate the eastern waters as 'no-take' zones. This would include all waters east of Po Toi Islands and Lei Yue Mun. WWF also supported the proposed two-month, territory-wide 'closed season' for fishing annually, and the establishment of a licensing system for fishing. 'The government is responsible for protecting the sustainability of Hong Kong's fish stocks and conserving its marine environment,' Mr Shaw said. 'Urgent action is required if Hong Kong is to have any chance of restoring its marine habitats and the sustainability of its fish stocks. Without fish, there can be no fishing industry.'