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LCQ15: Removal of abandoned fishing nets in the sea

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (February 17):


     "The Coastal Watch" project, implemented by World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong, released the results of a survey in October last year, revealing that the problem of marine refuse is serious in Hong Kong.  Plastic products constitute 60 per cent to 80 per cent of the marine refuse and there are quite a number of abandoned fishing nets.  Moreover, in October last year, the stomach and intestines of the carcass of a green turtle, found on the beach of Pak Lap Tsai in Sai Kung, were found to have been fully stuffed with refuse such as nylon strings, plastic strips, etc.  Recently, some members of the public have relayed to me that abandoned fishing nets in Hong Kong waters are posing serious threat to marine life.  For instance, once an endangered sea turtle is entangled by fishing nets, it may die of suffocation.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of reports received by the authorities in each of the past five years concerning marine animals from endangered species being strangled to death by abandoned fishing nets;

(2) whether the authorities conducted, in the past five years, any survey on the quantity of abandoned fishing nets in Hong Kong waters; if they did, of the details, including the locations where such fishing nets were found; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether the authorities clean up the abandoned fishing nets in Hong Kong waters on a regular basis; if they do, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(1) In the past five years, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has received reports of three death cases of marine animals from endangered species entangled in fishing nets.

(2) and (3) A study to investigate the sources, distribution and movement of marine refuse was carried out in 2013-14 under the steer of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Clean Shorelines (the Working Group).  The study included surveys at 36 sites of reported black spots of marine refuse during April 2013 to March 2014.  The surveys found abandoned fishing nets at 12 sites and estimated abandoned fishing nets accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of total marine refuse collected from shorelines and 0.3 per cent of total floating marine refuse by count.  In their marine refuse cleansing operations, the concerned Departments will remove the abandoned fishing nets together with other marine refuse.

     The AFCD also conducts regular ecological monitoring in marine parks and coordinates the annual survey of key coral sites in Hong Kong waters under the Reef Check programme.  During the monitoring and survey, divers will record the locations of abandoned fishing nets and the AFCD will then arrange its contractor to clean up the nets systematically.  In addition, underwater clean-up events are jointly organised by the AFCD and the Hong Kong Underwater Association to engage volunteer divers to remove abandoned fishing nets from major coral sites.

     The Working Group has also taken into account the finding of the Coastal Watch project which is funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund.  As part of the key messages in promoting public education on clean shorelines, the AFCD will continue to promulgate the message of proper disposal of used fishing nets to local fishermen through its regular liaison channels, fisheries training courses and seminars.  The Marine Department also reminds fishermen regularly to dispose of wastes generated from their fishing boats properly and not to dump it into the sea.

Ends/Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Issued at HKT 11:55


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