Environmental Petition

Conserve Marine Biodiversity! Support Marine Spatial Planning!

3521 Signatures obtained, Need To Reach 5000 by September 29, 2021
1479
Signatures
needed!
1479

Target: 5000

Sign Now

Description

Less than 3% of Hong Kong’s waters are currently protected. Even if the proposed marine parks are being set up and all actions under Hong Kong Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016-2021) are taken by the end of 2021, it is still not possible for Hong Kong to achieve the marine conservation goal of protecting 10% marine waters by last year under the Convention on Biological Diversity established by the United Nations and to fulfill the commitment which aligns with China and the international community.

We need to expand the size of current marine protected areas by at least 10 times in order to achieve the next marine conservation goal – designating 30% of marine waters as protected areas. Through the “World Oceans Day” on 8th June 2021, we encourage everyone to befriend the ocean and also urge Hong Kong government to stop reclamation projects that cause irreversible impacts on the coastline and marine waters and expedite the implementation of measures that the Convention on Biological Diversity proposed. Suggested actions are:

  1. Designating at least 10% of Hong Kong’s waters as marine protected areas.
  2. Setting up a timetable for the plan of protecting 30% Hong Kong’s waters by 2030.
  3. Ceasing all development projects that deploy “Destroy first, compensate later” approaches.
  4. Collaborating with marine users and local groups to work on marine spatial planning.

Through these actions, local biodiversity and ecologically important marine ecosystems can be protected in achieving a sustainable ocean. Over-exploitation of marine resources and conflicts in the access of marine waters can be prevented. These actions are pathways to the ultimate goal – a better balance of conservation, economy and social needs.

Background: The Convention on Biological Diversity (“Biodiversity Convention“) under the United Nation was signed in 1992 to promote the conservation of biodiversity. The signatories to the Biodiversity Convention have to reach conservation targets by a specific time in order to alleviate the loss in biodiversity across the world. Since China is one of the 196 signatories, the Biodiversity Convention became effective in Hong Kong in 2011. Therefore Hong Kong’s conservation policies and measures shall align with the Biodiversity Convention. In 2010, the United Nation established Aichi Biodiversity Targets. One of which calls for collective actions among signatories to designate at least 10% waters as marine protected areas by 2020. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently proposed a more ambitious goal – increase the coverage of marine protected area to 30%, which has extensive international support.

Updates

The petition is extended to 30th Sep, 2021

Befriend The Ocean working group has extended the petition to collect more support and let more people know about marine spatial planning through different events.

Befriend The Ocean

Petition Letter

To The Chief Executive of Hong Kong and Secretary for the Environment,

We support Hong Kong government to conserve local biodiversity in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity (“Biodiversity Convention”) through designating at least 10% of Hong Kong’s waters as marine protected areas [1]. We urge the government to review current marine spatial planning and the management work, and set a timetable in achieving the new target of protecting 30% Hong Kong’s waters by 2030 [2].

Let’s befriend the ocean on the World Oceans Day

The United Nations designates 8th June as the “World Oceans Day” calling for collective actions across the world to raise awareness of marine conservation among the community at large. We respond to the “World Oceans Day” to rebuild our relationship with the ocean and encourage Hong Kong community to “befriend the ocean”. Since marine resources are depleting and marine environment are threatened by human activities, we urge the government to protect the marine biodiversity and habitats which we rely on for many generations.

Our ocean and coastal regions are rich in biodiversity

Hong Kong has recorded 5,943 marine species, including about 1,000 fish species, 2 species of marine mammals, more than 80 species of hard corals, and over 60 species of soft corals and gorgonians. The total number of marine species in Hong Kong is about a quarter of that in China. Hong Kong waters are therefore ecologically important. The waters around the East Lantau are the habitat of many marine life, such as finless porpoises, starfish, seahorses, sea dragons, sea pens Pennatulacea, gorgonians, soft coral Dendronephthya spp., sun coral etc. The islands nearby are the breeding ground of the white-bellied sea eagles a national first-class protected species (according to China’s environmental protection laws). The habitats of these marine species need protection and management so that the species can thrive in Hong Kong waters.

Hong Kong’s marine ecosystems are abundant and diverse. Hong Kong is situated in the Pearl River Delta and the south coast of China. It comprises more than 200 outlying islands with a total ​​1,649 square kilometers of marine area – estuarine at the west, oceanic water at the east. Hong Kong’s diverse marine ecosystems are not only the habitats of many different marine species but also provide a great variety of ecological services, including climate regulation, environmental education, recreation, and food supply. Most importantly, we urgently need a healthy marine environment to help combat climate crisis.

Our actions to conserve biodiversity are below international standard

In October this year, the signatories to the Biodiversity Convention will meet in Kunming, China, to review the progress of this multilateral treaty and to establish new conservation goals and timetables. In marine conservation aspect, the target of designating at least 30% of marine area as ​​marine protected areas by 2030 is very likely to be adopted to further safeguard marine biodiversity.

In response to the Biodiversity Convention, the Environmental Bureau formulated Hong Kong Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2021 (“BSAP”). It highlights specific actions for conserving marine ecosystems, however, without targets and timetables. Based on the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) meeting on 11th May 2021 regarding the progress of implementation on BSAP, multiple actions are behind schedule.

Less than 3% of Hong Kong waters are currently under protection. Even if the proposed marine parks are being set up and all actions under BSAP are taken by the end of 2021, it is still not possible for Hong Kong to achieve the target of protecting 10% marine area by last year under the Biodiversity Convention and to fulfill the commitment to China and the international community. Hong Kong needs to expand the current marine protected areas by at least 10 times so as to achieve the international goal of conserving marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Reviewing Hong Kong’s marine spatial planning is crucial

UNESCO proposed marine spatial planning in 2006. Still, Hong Kong lacks comprehensive plan and systemic management. This leads to heavy exploitation of ecological important marine areas such as the coastal area and waters around Lantau Island by human activity, and causes conflicts between development and conservation. There are multiple issues under Hong Kong’s existing marine spatial planning:

  • The government lags behind schedule for designating marine protected areas. Multiple sites with significant ecological value are still not protected under the rule of law.
  • Environmental impact assessment and consultation are conducted based on specific development projects. The government is passive in marine spatial planning.
  • “Destroy first, compensate later” approaches are often adopted in reclamation projects. Marine protected area is designated after the completion of project. This is not an effective measure to mitigate the negative impacts on the marine environment.

Several citizen environmental groups supported “Protect the Ocean! No Reclamation!”, a marine spatial planning campaign last year, proposed rezoning the waters around Kau Yi Chau and Siu Kau Yi Chau, Lantau into a marine protected area. The planning application was however rejected by the Town Planning Board due to a reclamation plan. From a global perspective, about 70 countries / regions have started or completed marine spatial planning, including China, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway and Australia. Some of them have reached the target of designating 10% Marine Protected Area under the Biodiversity Convention.

Hong Kong needs to catch up

We urge the Hong Kong government to cease reclamation projects that cause irreversible impacts on the coastline and marine waters and expedite the implementation of measures that the Biodiversity Convention proposed. We proposed the following actions:

  1. To protect at least 10% of Hong Kong’s water, including bringing them under Cap. 476 Marine Parks Ordinance.
  2. To set up a timetable for designating 30% Hong Kong’s waters as marine protected area by 2030.
  3. To cease all development projects that deploy “Destroy first, compensate later” approaches.
  4. To collaborate with marine users and local groups to work on marine spatial planning.

Through these actions, local biodiversity and ecologically important marine ecosystems can be protected in achieving a sustainable ocean. Over-exploitation of marine resources and conflicts in the access of marine waters can be prevented. These actions are pathways to the ultimate goal – a better balance of conservation, economy and social needs.

Reference

[1] China – National Targets. Convention on Biological Diversity.  https://www.cbd.int/countries/targets/?country=cn

[2] Ocean impacts of climate change. IUCN World Conservation Congress Marseille. https://www.iucncongress2020.org/motion/037/61474

Petition Creator

This petition was started by Befriend The Ocean on June 2, 2021, with an end date of September 29, 2021.

此聯署由以下團體及個別人士共同發起 - This petition is co-initiated by the following groups and individuals - 350HK, WWF-Hong Kong, Save Lantau Alliance, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Hong Kong Christian Institute, Bonum: Christians Caring for Creation, Green Peace, Green Sense, Chan Kin-wing, Lai Kwong Tak and Chong Chan Yau.

包括以下團體支持 - This petition is supported by the following groups and individuals - Wildlife Avengers, TaiO.SDEWorkshop, School of Everyday Life, Eco-Education & Resources Centre, FOOTPRINT, CarbonCare InnoLab, Tsing Yi People, Conservancy Association, Peng Chau Land Reclamation Concern group, Living Lamma, The Ecology & Biodiversity Society, SS, HKUSU, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, One Body in Christ, Designing Hong Kong, The Green Earth, Greeners Action, Lung Mei Environmental Education Centre, Concerning Grassroots' Housing Rights Alliance, Dolphin Family, Bok Sha Lun, Ng Mee Kam, Chun Hoi Shing, Chan King Ming, Chan Sin Mei and Chung Shan Shan.