Hong Kong Trawling Ban Now in Effect

Written by on January 8, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law
Bycatch from a shrimp trawler

Bycatch from a shrimp trawler. Photo credit: NOAA.

Starting the New Year on a good track, 50 square kilometers of Hong Kong’s waters are now off limits to trawling.

Back in 2011, the government of Hong Kong decided to ban trawling in an attempt to save depleted fish stocks. The Fisheries Protection Ordinance (Cap 171) went into effect on December 31, 2012.

In a statement about the ban, Hong Kong’s health chief York Chow told the Legislative Council that it “can strengthen the sustainable development of the fishing industry,” while maintaining “a good oceanic environment.”

HK$1.7 billion has been designated to aid the nearly 400 affected trawler owners and employees, but many fishers remain skeptical. Conservationists, however, were thrilled.

“We welcome and support this ban very much, as trawling is a very destructive practice,” World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hong Kong spokeswoman Samantha Lee told AFP. WWF has been lobbying for a trawling ban since 2005.

Lee explained that after only five years, fish stocks could recover by 20 to 30 percent.

“Not only will species with commercial value return to our waters, those of ecological value such as corals and sea turtles will also benefit from a less disturbed and better preserved marine environment. In addition, a well-managed marine environment will also ensure a stable supply of quality sea fish for Hong Kong people,” a spokesman said.

While the ban does represent “the end of an era for Hong Kong’s fishermen,” Dr. So Ping-man, assistant director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department notes that it was not designed to eradicate the fishing industry.

“We are not killing it, but it might need to adopt other modes of operation less damaging to the environment,” he said.

Hong Kong.

Hong Kong. Photo credit Emily Tripp.

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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