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Results and prize presentation of Reef Check 2008 (with photos)

     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) held a prize presentation ceremony today (December 20) to commend the work of Reef Check teams and their contribution to the success of Hong Kong Reef Check 2008.

     The Assistant Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation (Country and Marine Parks), Mr Joseph Sham officiated at the ceremony and presented souvenirs to all participating teams and team scientists.

     In collaboration with the Reef Check Foundation, AFCD has co-ordinated an annual survey of corals in Hong Kong since 2000. With more than 340 participating volunteers in 34 diving teams, the event has been well received. The Reef Check teams came from different sectors, including education institutes, green groups, commercial sector, government departments and diving groups.

     A total of 34 sites were surveyed in Reef Check 2008 covering extensive marine areas of ecological importance. The three-month exercise started in June at the coral sites in the eastern part of Hong Kong waters from Tung Ping Chau in the north to Ninepin Groups in the south, including three Marine Parks - Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau Marine Parks.

     The survey method of Hong Kong Reef Check follows the established international standard. Reef Check divers recorded the indicator species (including 20 fishes and invertebrates), as well as coral coverage and health status. The vital information helped assess the coral condition and fauna diversity of a coral reef ecosystem over a period of time.

     The survey results are encouraging. They show that, in general, corals in Hong Kong are healthy and stable. Indicator species are abundant in most of the survey sites. A range in coral coverage (from 20% to 72%) was recorded among 34 survey sites. 23 of them including dive sites within the Marine Parks (Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau Marine Parks) recorded high coral coverage (above 50%). Among all sites, Gruff Head and Coral Beach at Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park and A Ma Wan at Tung Ping Chau Marine Park recorded the highest coral coverage (about 72%).

     Out of the assigned indicator species, 17 were recorded in the survey. Most of the survey sites recorded high species diversity where wrasses, groupers, butterfly fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cowries were commonly found.

     "Coral Watch" has been included in the Reef Check survey since 2005 to enhance the understanding on coral health status. Through measuring the colour intensity of the coral using a specially designed Coral Health Monitoring Chart, the health condition of corals can then be determined.

     Corals at 25 sites were assessed using "Coral Watch" tool in Reef Check 2008. The average health index is 4.27 (ranging from 3.48 to 5.30). The results are similar to last year (4.16). The average health index is well above the general average value (3), indicating corals were in healthy and stable condition.

     Coral bleaching and some coral damage were observed at a few sites but the impact was minor and localised. The department will closely monitor the situation and step up publicity and education efforts to drive home the message of coral conservation.

     Corals form a highly productive ecosystem with many different marine organisms relying on them for food and shelter. To protect our coral communities, AFCD will continue to regularly organise Reef Check to get the vital information necessary for the effective conservation and management of local corals.

Ends/Saturday, December 20, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:00


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