In a landmark ruling made last week, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government has announced that a ban on trawling will be enforced in Hong Kong waters.

In a landmark ruling made last week, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government has announced that a ban on trawling will be enforced in Hong Kong waters.

In his 2010-2011 policy address, the Chief Executive, Mr. Tsang said: “In recent years, Hong Kong’s marine environment has been affected by pollution and capture fisheries, resulting in a declining quality of fish catches. To protect our precious marine resources and ecology, we will implement a basket of management measures such as banning trawling in Hong Kong waters through legislation in order to restore our seabed and marine resources as early as possible." Most types of trawling are highly destructive fishing methods.

In Hong Kong about 1000 trawling vessels operate. The government will compensate fishermen through the use of a trawler buy-out scheme, allowances to alleviate affected livelihoods and free training to shift to sustainable fishing practices and aquaculture.

The new measures are expected to be passed into legislation in 2011.

This Hong Kong initiative should serve as an example for EU fisheries to shift to fishing methods that have a lower impact on the marine environment. Instead, the European Commission recently issued a proposal on catch limits for deep sea fisheries that will allow EU vessels to continue deep sea bottom trawling – one of the most destructive forms of fisheries, as has been repeatedly highlighted in scientific studies. A recent study on impacts of human activities on the deep sea floor of the North East Atlantic confirmed again the huge impact of bottom trawling.

Photograph of a twin trawl by Ed Willsteed

 

Human Activities on the Deep Seafloor in the North East Atlantic: An Assessment of Spatial Extent

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