Doug Woodring, Founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance says that without proper protection, our Marine Parks will be plundered at will. Will be and are already.
Last weekend we had the sad opportunity to witness the tragedy of our communal commons, and the result of inaction of our government, despite the last administration’s pledge, to turn the Hoi Ha Marine Park, into that, an actual marine park. Today it remains a legal hunting ground for those few hundred licensees who have the “right” to spoil communal property because of the government’s strange and continued practice of catering to a select few to the detriment of our broader society.
Under the darkness of Saturday night, a large fishing vessel with no running lights on board (an illegal practice in its own right), entered deep into the “marine park” to carry out its hunting, obviously trying to operate without being detected as it used a purse seine method to net fish with the use of a small support boat. To their credit, the Marine Police acted immediately upon being notified of the hunting vessel, and quickly descended upon the boat which by now had turned its squid fishing lights to “claim innocence” from the confiscation of marine park fish it had been undertaking. Regrettably, the vessel had its paperwork in order, and was able to go about its hunting, undeterred, though it presumably chose nightfall to reduce the guilt and public exposure of conducting this activity in a location deemed a “marine park.”
Allowing fishing in a marine park sends the wrong signal to our youth and community in so many ways. It infers that a “park,” and supposed “protection of resources” means nothing, and that the government cannot be trusted to do what is right for the betterment of our broader society because it does not define, or act upon accepted international definitions, of what a park constitutes.
All fishing licenses within Hoi Ha Wan should be revoked within six months, with no compensation to anyone. There is no one making a living from fishing in this park, nor should they be allowed to. Their activities constitute a joy ride, or “canned hunting” experience, which is no different than allowing hunting in the Botanical Garden. There is plenty of water in Hong Kong for those who want to fish, to fish. In fact, with trawling banned, there is less reason to pilfer the park as other resources are already showing good signs of recovery. It is high time for the government to admit its faults in how it runs a marine park, and move on. No one will be upset, and in fact, we will all celebrate, except those few who have been given the right to plunder, which they don’t even need, or want to flaunt, using the darkness of night to keep themselves from the embarrassment of doing what even they know, is not right.
Founder – Ocean Recovery Alliance
Doug Woodring is the founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance (www.oceanrecov.org) and a co-founder of the Plastic Disclosure Project (www.plasticdisclosure.org). E-mail: email@example.com”]