Feb 29

China Watch Blog has learnt that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claims that the True Cost of a Third Runway Reclamation in Hong Kong will include a HK$48 Million Loss to the Fishing Industry in a New UBC Modelling Study.

A new study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) Fisheries Centre on the impacts of reclamation on fisheries was released by WWF today. The study projects the impacts of a 650 hectares potential third runway reclamation at Hong Kong International Airport, on the recovery of the marine ecosystem and the development of sustainable fisheries in the wake of the forthcoming trawling ban and ban on commercial fishing in Marine Parks.

It shows that the fishing industry would likely suffer losses in value of their catches of HK$48 million and losses in net profit of HK$11 million over a 18 year period .

The study also reveals that the impacts on fish catches and the fishing community of a third runway reclamation are five times greater than anticipated by Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK).

The new UBC figure estimates the impact of a third runway to be 0.44 percent of Hong Kong’s yearly production, versus AAHK’s figure of 0.08 percent . The UBC study calculated the loss against the more healthy marine ecosystem and fishery resources that will occur when trawling stops in late 2012, and other fishery management measures.

Samantha Lee, Senior Conservation Officer, Marine at WWF-Hong Kong said, “AAHK has downplayed the impacts of the third runway reclamation to fisheries and the fishing community. Without conducting fishery modelling to look into the future, the real cost of reclamation cannot be estimated. This new information on fisheries also fills a crucial data gap needed to conduct a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study in order to measure the true environmental and social cost of a potential third runway.”

The study shows that up to 31 non-trawler fishers are likely to lose their jobs. This is because the reclamation will reduce the expected growth in marine life such as fish, shrimp and squid populations in Hong Kong following the trawling ban. Therefore, fishers’ overall catches will be lower. If the government provides full compensation and training for the fishers using current procedures, the estimated costs would be between HK$12-31 million.

Ms. Lee continued, “The proposed third runway will undermine the social and ecological benefits that will result from the trawling ban; countering the effectiveness of conservation measures to protect the fishery resources. On the one hand the government is trying to rebuild fish stocks; on the other, it seems intent on destroying substantial areas of the sea. The government should much more carefully consider the future impacts on marine ecosystem recovery and sustainable fisheries before deciding whether to proceed with such large-scale reclamations.”

This study was conducted over the past two months. By using this type of modelling, WWF and UBC have collaborated to develop a new tool to examine not just the impacts of reclamation on fisheries but also how fishery resources will recover from the trawling ban.

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