Conservation of sea turtles in Hong Kong
Sham Wan Restricted Area
The sandy beach at Sham Wan, Lamma Island is the only site in Hong Kong and one of the few sites in South China Sea at which Green Turtles nest from time to time. Therefore, the site is very important to the breeding and survival of this endangered species both locally and regionally.
The number of Green Turtles nesting in Sham Wan is small and there would only be nesting once in several years. The protection of this remnant nesting population is very important and a variety of conservation measures have been undertaken.
In view of the scientific interest of the sandy beach and the nearby shallow water, the area has become a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1999. The sandy beach at Sham Wan was also designated as a Restricted Area under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) in the same year.
To strengthen the protection of the Green Turtle, with effect from 1 April 2021, the Restricted Area has been expanded from the beach to the adjacent waters in the inlet of the sea, and the restricted period has been extended from five months to seven months (1 April to 31 October) every year. Unauthorised entry is subject to a maximum fine of HKD50,000.
Conservation Management of Sham Wan
Patrol and monitoring
During the restricted period, nature wardens conduct patrols to prevent unauthorised activities and to monitor the nesting activities of Green Turtles. Remote surveillance cameras are deployed to monitor nesting behaviors, as well as to facilitate rapid response against illegal activities.
Climber and garbage removal
Before the onset of the nesting season each year, AFCD carries out conservation management work at the nesting site including removal of climbers such as the Beach Morning-glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) and Vitex rotundifolia. The latter is extensively rooted and difficult to control. These climbers obstruct the turtles from making their nests and their hatchlings from entering the sea. If turtles are unable to penetrate the climber thicket and have to make nests closer to the sea, the eggs would have a risk of being flooded.
Marine refuse also poses problem to sea turtles. While the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is responsible for removing garbage on beaches, refuse is sometimes washed ashore. AFCD conducts regular inspection at the Sham Wan Restricted Area and remove abandoned fishing nets, refuse and unwanted vegetation to maintain suitable habitats for breeding Green Turtles.
Prior to the start of the restricted period every year, AFCD contacts relevant stakeholders including fishermen organisations and marina clubs to remind them of the effective time and control measures of the Sham Wan Restricted Area. Relevant stakeholders are also invited to join hands in maintaining the Sham Wan Restricted Area and organising education and publicity programmes for the conservation of Green Turtles.
To download the leaflet, please click here