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Reef Check 2014 finds corals in healthy and stable condition (with photos)

     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced today (December 6) that the Reef Check this year showed that local corals are generally in a healthy and stable condition and exhibit a rich diversity of fauna species.

     Hong Kong Reef Check 2014, a four-month exercise that started in June, covered marine areas in the eastern part of Hong Kong extending from Tung Ping Chau in the north to the Ninepin Group in the south, including a number of sites of ecological importance. Among the 33 survey sites, nine were within the Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau marine parks.

     A variation in coral coverage, ranging from 21.9 per cent to 79.4 per cent, was recorded among the survey sites. Nineteen sites recorded high coral coverage (above 50 per cent). Among all sites, Coral Beach at Hoi Ha Wan recorded the highest coral coverage of 79.4 per cent.

     Most of the survey sites were found to have a high species diversity. All of the 20 assigned indicator species were recorded in the survey sites, with wrasses, groupers, butterfly fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cowries commonly found. Many groupers, wrasses, snappers and sweetlips were found in survey sites at Port Shelter and in north-eastern waters, including the three marine parks.

     Reef Check 2014 assessed the condition of corals at nine sites using the Coral Watch tool. By measuring the colour intensity of the coral using a specially designed Coral Health Monitoring Chart, the health condition of corals can then be determined. The average health index of the nine sites was 4.34 (ranging from 3.73 to 4.92), which was similar to last year (4.23). The average health index is well above the general average value (3), indicating corals were in a healthy and stable condition.

     Coral bleaching and some coral damage were observed at a few sites but the impact was minor and localised.

     Sixty-three dive teams comprising more than 650 volunteer divers from different sectors of the community took part in the Reef Check this year. The AFCD awarded souvenirs and certificates to the reef check teams and participating scientists to recognise their contributions.

     Hong Kong Reef Check is part of a global programme to promote sustainable management of coral reefs. The first Reef Check was held by the Hong Kong Reef Check Foundation (the Foundation) in 1997. The AFCD has collaborated with the Foundation in conducting the survey since 2000.

     Hong Kong Reef Check's survey method and data collection follow international standards. Reef Check divers recorded the indicator species (including 20 fishes and invertebrates), coral coverage and health status. The data helps assess the coral condition and fauna diversity of a coral reef ecosystem over time.

     Corals form a highly productive system that supports various marine organisms by providing them with food and shelter. The AFCD will continue to organise Reef Check activities to collect important information necessary for devising conservation and management measures to protect the precious corals as well as to raise public awareness on the ecological importance of corals and the need for coral conservation.

Ends/Saturday, December 6, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30


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