Marine parks sanctioned

THE Agriculture and Fisheries Department wishes to thank your reader (South China Morning Post, October 19) for his support for the establishment of marine parks and marine reserves in Hong Kong.

At the same time, I want to point out that approval in principle has just been given by the Executive Council for the establishment of these marine parks and marine reserves.

It is the Government's plan to introduce a new bill for the designation, management and development of the marine parks and marine reserves to the Legislative Council in 1994. No marine parks or marine reserves have yet been designated at this stage.

The new bill will prohibit harmful fishing activities such as bottom-trawling and underwater spearfishing in both marine parks and marine reserves. Existing fishing activities which are considered sustainable will be allowed in marine parks and controlled through a permit system, whilst all fishing activities will be prohibited in a marine reserve to avoid disturbance to scientific studies conducted within that area.

Dynamite fishing activities in Hong Kong are prohibited under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance. Upon convictions, offenders are liable to a maximum penalty of $10,000 fine and six-months' imprisonment.

The Marine Police and this department will appreciate detailed information of the incident mentioned in the letter so that appropriate enforcement activities could be taken against such illegal activities.

At the same time, patrolling activities in the Yau Chau Tong area have been stepped up. Apart from enforcement, there has been a continued effort in educating fishermen that dynamatic fishing is detrimental to the environment and to their long-term interest.

C. C. LAY for Director of Agriculture and Fisheries