Leung Chun-ying

CY’s pet project on lunchtime fishing is not without critics

It’s an odd idea, but surely a step in the right direction to returning Hong Kong’s world famous harbourfront to the people

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 1:39am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 1:39am

So magnificent is our Victoria Harbour that it would be a huge waste not to let people fully enjoy it. The good news is that the water is now not only clean enough to revive the once-popular cross-harbour swimming competition, but plans to designate part of the harbourfront in Central for angling are also under way.

Eyebrows have been raised ever since the idea was floated by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his policy speech earlier this year. He said office workers could relax during their lunch break by fishing or taking a dip in the harbour. The proposal, however, was immediately ridiculed by critics. They said Leung had lost touch with the needs of the people, adding that there were many other proposals that would benefit the wider community. Scepticism grew further when the cost of the project was revealed. Taxpayers are required to fork out an upfront HK$3.5 million, followed by annual spending of HK$900,000 for maintenance. Officials also conceded that the fishing zone was intended for leisure only, as the catch would unfit for human consumption.

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For those who are into fishing, the project may be a hard sell. It does not take an expert to tell that anglers do not like to be cramped into a small area. Although the zone comes with lockers and other facilities, fishing fans will be shoulder to shoulder within a span of 54 metres along the shoreline off Tamar.

There are those who believe that fishing is animal cruelty and should therefore be discouraged. Here, our relatively neutral attitude towards angling has enabled the government to give it a try. People have long been fishing along the harbourfront, even without this initiative. But when the city’s leader throws his weight behind the hobby with a pilot scheme, the public expects better coordination and regulation. This includes adopting internationally recognised best practices to make fishing enjoyable while easing the impact on marine ecology. If the project proves popular, it can be further expanded. Officials should also explore more options for people to enjoy the harbourfront.