LCQ11: Demand for berthing spaces at typhoon shelters

     Following is a question by the Hon Benson Luk and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):


     Some vessel owners have relayed that the number of licensed vessels in Hong Kong has been continuously on the rise, and most vessel owners choose to berth their vessels at those typhoon shelters near the urban areas (e.g. typhoon shelters in Aberdeen, Shau Kei Wan and Kwun Tong), leading to overcrowding of vessels at such typhoon shelters. Furthermore, as the measure of designating berthing areas according to the type of ship (designated berthing areas) has not been fully implemented in such typhoon shelters, there have been chaotic situations from time to time, posing potential safety hazards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the measures in place to cope with the demand of newly increased vessels for berthing spaces at typhoon shelters (in particular berthing spaces near the urban areas), including whether it will expand the size and capacity as well as introduce other enhancement measures for the existing typhoon shelters, or construct additional typhoon shelters; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) as it is learnt that the Government earlier on agreed to designate 5 per cent of the area in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter as a dedicated berthing area for fishing vessels and working vessels but the plan was finally dropped, whether the Government will, in the coming three years, study the introduction of designated berthing areas in some typhoon shelters; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) as some vessel owners have pointed out that quite a number of typhoon shelters are located far away from the urban areas and are inconvenient to fishermen and other users, whether the Government has, in its new round of Assessment of Typhoon Shelter Space Requirements already commenced, assessed the respective demand for berthing spaces at typhoon shelters near the urban areas and in remote areas; if so, whether the preliminary assessment outcome is available, and when the assessment report will be published?



     The Government attaches great importance to the management of typhoon shelters and has been maintaining communication with the stakeholders, pragmatically handling different issues and proactively improving the management and facilities of the typhoon shelters.

     There are currently 14 typhoon shelters in Hong Kong, providing a total of 419 hectares of mooring space for use by local and small visiting vessels. The Government will ensure that there is sufficient space within Hong Kong waters as typhoon shelters suitable for small vessels to take refuge during inclement weather, so as to safeguard the safety of vessels and the crew members on board.
     Except for certain areas of waters where anchoring is prohibited, owners and masters of local vessels are allowed under the Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) (General) Regulation (Cap. 548F) to anchor their vessels at any safe and suitable locations in the waters of Hong Kong according to the vessels' operational needs and the availability of different areas of waters, including typhoon shelters or sheltered anchorages, and remain there on a first-come-first-served basis. There is no need to seek approval or designation of space from the Marine Department (MD).
     In consultation with the relevant government departments, the consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Benson Luk are as follows:

     The MD carries out assessments of the overall territory-wide supply and demand situation of sheltered spaces on a regular basis. Based on the Assessment of Typhoon Shelter Space Requirements released in 2017, the overall territory-wide supply of sheltered spaces for local vessels can adequately meet the demand from 2017 to 2030.
     A new round of territory-wide assessment of sheltered spaces has been launched to assess the overall territory-wide supply of sheltered spaces from now on till 2035, and is expected to be completed at the end of 2022. The regular assessment will consider the shifting trends in sheltered spaces, the number of vessels and their size. During the assessment, we will also review different suggestions from the industry.
     The Government has noted the views for more berthing spaces at urban typhoon shelters. The MD will continue to keep in view the availability of suitable sheltered spaces in urban areas and conduct study. The information provided by the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) showed that in order to take forward one of the main projects under the Invigorating Island South initiative, the CEDD commenced in April 2022 a consultancy on investigation, design and construction for the expansion of Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter to address the demand for sheltered spaces in Hong Kong Island South and to support tourism, leisure and recreation development in the Southern District. The works are expected to start in early 2025. The proposed expansion area is about 30 hectares.

     Regarding the issue of assigning designated areas for the berthing of vessels at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, the then Transport and Housing Bureau and the MD have been maintaining communication with the industry and actively exploring with relevant stakeholders different proposals to introduce designated berthing areas for vessels in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter through administrative arrangement since 2021. The MD is also willing to extend the successful experience of the pilot scheme for the exclusive mooring of non-pleasure vessels within the Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter to other typhoon shelters, which has formed the basis for continuous discussions with the stakeholders of the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, with a view to reducing the frictions and disputes between vessels of different classes berthed within typhoon shelters.
     In fact, in June this year, the MD further initiated relevant discussions with the stakeholders of the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter on the designated area proposal and explored the latest revised proposal with the stakeholders in mid-October this year. The MD will implement the revised proposal on a trial basis when consensus has been broadly reached by the relevant stakeholders. The MD will continue to communicate with the relevant stakeholders.

Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Issued at HKT 11:45