LCQ12: Protecting natural ecology
Recently, some members of the public have found that some picnickers collected, during their visit to a beach in a country park, a large number of marine organisms dwelling on the beach such as sea urchins, clams and sea cucumbers. These members of the public consider that the incident reflects a lack of awareness among some people about protecting the natural ecology, and the authorities should therefore step up efforts in educating the public and regulating such activities. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the existing legislation that prohibits the acts of unauthorised hunting/collection of wild animals and marine organisms in country parks and marine parks; the respective numbers of persons prosecuted and convicted in the past three years for contravening such laws as well as the details of such cases;
(2) whether the authorities carried out promotional and educational work in the past three years to instil the concept of protecting the natural ecology in members of the public and tourists; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) of the plans, on the premise that visits by picnickers will not be hindered, to step up the protection of the natural ecology?
Replies to the Hon Yiu Si-wing's enquiries are as follows:
(1) According to section 3(1) of the Marine Parks and Marine Reserves Regulation (Cap 476A), no person shall fish or hunt, injure, remove or take away any animals or plants in or from a marine park or marine reserve, except with a permit or fish by angling with one line and one hook in the designated Recreational Fishing Zone. Offenders are liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for one year. In addition, the Country Parks and Special Areas Regulations (Cap 208A) prohibits the carrying, possession or discharge of any hunting or trapping appliances in country parks. Offenders are liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $2,000 and imprisonment for three months. As for areas outside country parks, marine parks and marine reserve, they are also regulated under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) that no person shall hunt, wilfully disturb or possess any protected wild animal. Contravening the said Ordinance may be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for one year.
In the past three years (2015-17), there were 30 prosecution cases of illegal capture of wild animals and marine life in country parks, marine parks and marine reserve, with the penalty ranging from a fine of $300 to $8,000. Most of these cases involved visitors conducting illegal fishing activities in marine parks or marine reserve. In view of this, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has stepped up patrol and law enforcement in marine parks and marine reserve on weekends and holidays in recent years. The AFCD has also made on-site announcements to remind the public and visitors of the regulations concerning marine parks and marine reserve, including the prohibition of hunting, disturbing or collecting marine life in the marine parks and marine reserve.
(2) The AFCD organises a series of education and publicity activities each year for teachers, students and members of the public, and produces various publications to promote nature conservation, protection of country parks and marine parks and biodiversity. These programmes include school visits, guided tours at various visitor centres and education centres, eco-tours and field studies, exhibitions, educational workshops and volunteer programmes. Last year, the AFCD organised roving exhibitions on Hong Kong Marine Biodiversity in various districts and a series of public education activities including marine ecology talks, coastal eco-tours and coastal clean-up, with a view to enhancing the knowledge of the public on local marine ecology and arousing public awareness of marine conservation. Through the Marine Parks Ambassador Scheme, the AFCD also regularly distributes the Marine Park Visitors Code to the citizens and tourists visiting the marine parks to remind them of the good behaviour when visiting the nature. In addition, the AFCD liaises with the Tourism Commission to enhance the promotion of good practices and codes of conduct for green travel to tourists through various channels including the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
(3) In addition to the education and publicity activities mentioned above, the AFCD country park wardens and marine park wardens also promote the messages and give verbal advice to visitors from time to time during their regular patrol. If irregularities are detected, appropriate law enforcement actions will be taken. Moreover, the AFCD also organises eco-tours, coastal clean-up day, exhibitions and student ambassador scheme, etc. at coastal areas outside marine parks and marine reserve such as Ting Kok and Ting Kok East. These activities promote the messages about protection of the marine environment, inter-tidal marine life and mangroves, thus enhancing the public awareness of the importance in conserving the nature and avoiding the disturbance or hunting of marine life. The AFCD also regularly promotes the codes of conduct for visiting the nature to educate the public to appreciate the nature with the right attitude.
Ends/Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Issued at HKT 11:30
Issued at HKT 11:30