Fish farmers have accused the government of forcing them to end their businesses by regulating the minimum amount of fish their rafts should farm.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department submitted a paper to the Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene, which will be discussed today, to improve fish farming in Hong Kong, including designating several new fish culture zones and issuing new marine fish culture licenses after a moratorium was imposed in 1990.
But about 20 fish farmers vented their frustrations in a press conference yesterday, complaining certain restrictive measures that will come into effect on April 1. According to the fish farmers, the criteria of extending the raft license has been tightened, stating at least 70 percent of the raft be used for fish farming, and that each square meter of the raft should have at least 10 kilograms of fish.
Colin Ng Siu-yan, a fish farmer in High Island, said it would be too risky to farm that many fish at the same time and that she will consider ending her business if the measures are imposed. Legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick said he will move a motion in the panel meeting today to urge the government to withdraw the new regulations, and improve the water quality and fish farming environment.
An AFCD spokeswoman said the department was consulting the industry on the proposal.
"While the government is working towards creating room for the mariculture sector to move towards the sustainable path through various measures, we hope to, at the same time, to ensure licensed areas are fully utilized for mariculture purpose," she said.