In this photo taken on May 13, 2020, Gary Stokes (left), founder of the environmental group Oceans Asia, uses surgical gloves to pick up discarded face masks as beach cleaners sort through other pieces of litter left on a beach in the residential area of Discovery Bay on the outlying Lantau island in Hong Kong. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)
HONG KONG - The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s expenditure for marine conservation is expected to go down at least in the next two years even as the SAR continues to expand its protected sea areas, according to Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wa.
Replying to an enquiry at the Legislative Council, Secretary for Environment and Ecology Tse Chin-wan said the expenditure for marine conservation stood at HK$101.88 million ($13.02 million) for the current financial year, down from HK$102.63 million in 2020/21.
Once the North Lantau Marine Park is officially designated, the total sea area under protection in Hong Kong will exceed 8,500 hectares, up from more than 6,000 hectares
For next year, the expenditure is expected to go down to HK$99.23 million and then decrease further to HK$86.65 million in 2023/24. The expenditure in 2019/20 was HK$86.75 million and HK$67.93 million in 2018/19.
Tse said the major work in the coming year is the preparation of the designation of the North Lantau Marine Park and continuing the public education and publicity activities related to marine conservation.
The government has also been providing support to local non-profit organizations through the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) for promoting marine conservation projects and activities.
Once the North Lantau Marine Park is officially designated, the total sea area under protection in Hong Kong will exceed 8,500 hectares, up from more than 6,000 hectares.
Tse also said that the government has taken into account the balance between development and conservation when formulating the Lantau Tomorrow Vision in 2019.
“The prevailing reclamation techniques are effective in reducing impacts on surrounding water quality and ecology arising from the works,” he said.
For instance, the use of "non-dredging methods" for reclamation and "deep cement mixing" can eliminate the environmental pollution by avoiding the removal of seabed sediments, significantly abating the impact of the works on marine ecology.
The government will also retain the existing natural shorelines as far as possible and establish eco-shorelines at the artificial islands if situation warrants, Tse added.
He also noted that reclamation works associated with the Lantau Tomorrow Vision are designated projects under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance to ensure the SAR’s ecology is maintained and protected.
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