About 300 islanders marched from the Central ferry piers to the Central Government Offices yesterday to protest against a cut in services proposed under the retendering of four ferry routes. Some protesters carried lifebuoys to signify that they would have to swim to and from Central because of proposed fare increases. The four routes - to Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma, and Peng Chau and Mui Wo - are to be retendered this month after operators last month proposed increasing fares by 30 per cent to 50 per cent - a move deemed unacceptable by the government. The franchises for the services expire in June. Sally Lam, a Lamma resident, said she understood ferry operators needed to raise fares because of rising fuel prices, but a 30 per cent increase was too much. 'I think the operators should try to cut the costs in other ways. For example, air-conditioning on ferries. I don't think this is a must,' Ms Lam said, adding she would accept a fare increase of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent. Angel Shih, a Peng Chau resident, also said she would accept a fare increase of 5 per cent because this was not higher than the rate of inflation. Proposed cuts to ferry services were a concern for Ms Shih, who said cancelling overnight boats would mean people would be stuck on the island until the following day. Protest organiser Steve Gardner, from Peng Chau, said: 'The government is damaging the treasure that is offered here. Who is going to visit the island if the fare is HK$32?'