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Speech by PSHWF at Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Quality Seawater Assurance Scheme

    Following is the translation of the speech by the Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Mrs Carrie Yau, at the Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Quality Seawater Assurance Scheme today (June 27):

Welcome, honoured guests and friends from the press,

     Thank you for joining me today at this Certification Presentation Ceremony for Quality Seawater Assurance Scheme.

     A reliable source of quality seawater supply is critical for ensuring water quality in fish tanks for keeping live seafood.  To this end, the Government has launched a raft of measures to enhance the quality of the seawater used for keeping live seafood.

     For instance, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) conducts regular inspections to licensed premises that sell live seafood and collects samples of fish tank water for tests on E. Coli counts.  The FEHD has also issued guidelines on the recommended filtration and disinfection techniques and management practices to the trade.  Moreover, the Fish Marketing Organisation also supplies clean seawater at cost to wholesale stalls and other traders at its fish wholesale markets in Aberdeen, Kwun Tong and Cheung Sha Wan.

     For the longer term, we plan to enact legislation to prohibit abstraction of seawater from designated high-risk pollution areas for keeping live seafood.

     The Quality Seawater Assurance Scheme is the latest initiative to encourage the trade to enhance the quality of fish tank seawater.  Through the scheme, we hope to promote self-regulation amongst the trade to achieve the following two objectives:

(1)to enhance the quality of the seawater used for keeping live seafood at every point of the seawater supply chain, so as to reduce the risk of contamination of seafood in order to protect public health; and  

(2)to help the public better understand the quality of fish tank seawater used in seafood restaurants and sales outlets.

     We believe that through attaining accreditation under the scheme, a seafood trader can strengthen the consumers' confidence in the quality of their seafood and fish tank seawater, thus attracting more business.  This will bring about a win-win outcome for everyone.

     The scheme has been open for application since January 19 this year.  To date, more than 100 premises from seven companies have successfully attained accreditation.  These successful applicants include seawater supply stations, seafood restaurants and sales outlets.  Here, let me first offer my sincere congratulations to our first batch of accredited operators.  The support they give to the Quality Seawater Assurance Scheme and the importance they attach to the seawater quality in their fish tanks are in themselves a motivation force for further enhancing the reputation of our local seafood businesses.

     I would also like to thank members of the Appeal Committee and the Accreditation Committee for taking time out of their busy schedules to undertake voluntary committee work.  Their community spirit is most commendable.  Last but not least, the Hong Kong Productivity Council has also played a key role in the scheme.  As the independent Accrediting Body of the Scheme, the council has made valuable contributions towards its development and implementation.  Indeed, the professionalism and hard work of their staff are crucial to the success of the scheme.  I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude towards the council.

     To promote the scheme amongst the public and seafood business operators, we will publicise it through various channels, such as posters and APIs on TV and radio, etc.  I am confident that as more and more citizens and members of the trade learn of the scheme and experience the benefits it brings, the participation rate in the scheme will keep on increasing.

     And finally, I thank you all ladies and gentlemen from various sectors and distinguished members of the seafood and catering industry for joining me at this certificate presentation ceremony.  I am most delighted and encouraged by your presence and support.  Let us keep working together to further promote the scheme and boost the public confidence in seafood consumption.

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:55