To bring local fisheries back to a sustainable path, the Fisheries Protection (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 (Amendment Ordinance), which took effect today (June 15), implements a series of fisheries management measures to regulate fishing activities in Hong Kong waters.
These new measures include limiting the entry of new fishing vessels, restricting fishing activities that use or are aided by non-fishing vessels, prohibiting fishing activities that use or are aided by non-local fishing vessels, and designation of Fisheries Protection Areas.
A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said, "Local fishing has far exceeded the optimal level as assessed by experts. To control fishing so as to enable the marine environment to rehabilitate, we need to limit the number of fishing vessels and the total engine power of these vessels. Apart from existing local fishing vessels, we do not intend to allow any fishing vessels to enter the local fisheries industry."
Under the Amendment Ordinance, no person may be engaged in fishing with the use or aid of a vessel in Hong Kong waters, unless (i) the vessel is a registered vessel; (ii) the person is so engaged under and in accordance with a valid research fishing permit; or (iii) the fishing falls under the list of permitted fishing with the use or aid of non-fishing vessels or local fishing vessels which have not been registered.
"The Amendment Ordinance provides for the setting up of a registration system for local fishing vessels, with a view to maintaining an appropriate level of fishing effort in Hong Kong waters. Owners of local fishing vessels must apply to the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation for registration of their vessels on or before June 14, 2013 if the vessels are to be used for fishing in Hong Kong waters."
Fishing vessel owners fulfilling the following criteria can apply for registration of their vessels:
* The vessel is designed and equipped to be used primarily for fishing;
* The vessel possessed, on June 15, 2012, a valid operating licence issued by the Marine Department (MD); or
* If the vessel is acquired or constructed after June 15, 2012, its owner must possess an Approval-in-Principle Letter issued by MD to acquire or construct the vessel that was valid on June 15, 2012 and a valid operating licence issued by MD by the time of application for registration.
As trawling in Hong Kong waters will be banned starting December 31, 2012, trawlers will not be registered. To cater for this special situation, the Amendment Ordinance allows a trawler owner an option of registering a non-trawler by modifying his/her existing trawler or by acquiring a new vessel. Owners of trawlers should submit applications in accordance with such terms and time limit (if any) as may be specified in a certificate of eligibility for registration to be issued by the AFCD.
To facilitate the registration process, fishing vessel owners can make prior appointments through the booking hotline 9738 0815 and submit their applications in person or by proxy from July 3, 2012 to June 14, 2013 at various offices in Aberdeen, Shau Kei Wan, Tai Po, Tuen Mun, Cheung Chau and Sai Kung as well as AFCD Headquarters in accordance with the date, time and venues specified in the Annex.
Fishing vessel owners can also submit their completed forms together with other required documents by post on or before June 14, 2013 to the Fisheries Enforcement and Special Projects Division, 8/F, AFCD, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon.
Application forms and details are available on the AFCD's website: www.afcd.gov.hk. For enquiries, please call 2150 7108 during office hours.