Save the Dolphins & Protect the environment

Send petition for preserving our Lantau and the dolphins' habitat

Hong Kong Dolphinwatch Ltd.'s opinion and stand-point


In spite of the Government and the Financial Secretary¡¦s frequently emphasizing Lantau¡¦s immense value in natural beauty and cultural heritage and the need to conserve them, one quick glance at the Concept Plan tells you that the amount of proposed development (which inevitably translates to destruction of the natural environment and coastline) outweighs conservation concerns tremendously.  It just makes all of us wonder how sincere the Government is about preserving the remaining natural beauty and delicate natural resources of Lantau.


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We have sent our opinion to the Government and have signed up the Joint Statement on Sustainable Development for Lantau. Though the consultation has ended, HKDW joins other green groups and concerned individuals in fighting for saving Lantau from any environmental destruction. Please lend a hand by keep sending your views to the government and the media, and sign petitions.

You can write to: The Lantau Development Task Force c/o Lantau and Islands District Planning Office, Planning Department, 15/F, Sha Tin Government Offices, 1 Sheung Wo Che Road, Sha Tin, New Territories

Fax: (852) 2890-5194             Email:

or Mr Henry Tang, Financial Secretary, 12/F, Central Government Offices, West Wing, Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong


Official web page for the concept plan for Lantau

Concept plan for Lantau Public Consultation by the Lantau Development Task Force

Related links:

Keep Lantau Beautiful

Hong Kong Outdoors - Keep Lantau Beautiful

Living Islands Movement - the battle for Lantau


Hong Kong Dolphinwatch Ltd.'s opinion and stand-point (Full Version)


In spite of the Government and the Financial Secretary¡¦s frequently emphasizing Lantau¡¦s immense value in natural beauty and cultural heritage and the need to conserve them, one quick glance at the Concept Plan tells you that the amount of proposed development (which inevitably translates to destruction of the natural environment and coastline) outweighs conservation concerns tremendously.  It just makes all of us wonder how sincere the Government is about preserving the remaining natural beauty and delicate natural resources of Lantau.


Development proposed:

1.     A Logistic Park (west of Siu Ho Wan, north Lantau)

2.     Extension of the Logistic Park or recreational uses (at Tai Ho, north Lantau)

3.     Cross Boundary Transport Hub (north Lantau)

4.     Leisure and Entertainment/Tourism Node in Sunny Bay (north Lantau)

5.     Theme Park and Recreational uses (west of Tai Ho, north Lantau)

6.     Golf Course cum Resort (north-eastern end of Lantau)

7.     Resorts (east end of Cheung Sha, south Lantau)

8.     Facelift of Mui Wo (south Lantau)

9.     Reservation of Tai O Fishing Village (north-western Lantau)

10.   Cycle Track and Mountain Bike Trail (south Lantau)

11.   Beachside Broadwalk & Water Sports Centre (Pui O and Cheung Sha, South Lantau)

12.   Museum of Lantau (Tung Chung, north Lantau)

13.   Eco-Tour Centre (Tung Chung, north Lantau)


Can anybody say the proposed conservation effort balances the destruction brought about by the proposed development?

It is easily seen that majority of the proposed projects involves pouring concrete on Lantau with the exception of preserving Tai O as a fishing village.  There is also a ¡§possible marine park¡¨ at the western end of Lantau.  Don¡¦t imagine that it can compensate the possible damage at north Lantau, north Lantau is much more heavily used by the dolphins than anywhere else.  If the animals can, and will, move to less damaged areas, they would have all left Hong Kong decades ago.  What¡¦s more, the proposed one is less than half of that of the Lung Kwu Chau and Sha Chau marine park; the latter is only 12 square kilometers, too small to be of much meaning already.  Have one smaller than that, we can all imagine how effective it would be in terms of conservation.  Hong Kong can become a laughing stock, establishing the tiniest marine parks, one after another, in the world.  Again, how sincere are we about conserving nature?


Concrete or nature, which is better?

Proposed projects 1-5 all involve reclamation and they are all along the coast of northern Lantau.  It appears to us that the Government thinks since having an airport at Chep Lap Kok and the highway connecting it to town have already destroyed the natural coastline of northern Lantau, why stop there?


One can argue that reclamation can be done by state-of-the-art technology and damage to the marine lives and ecology can be kept to the minimum.  The bottom line is, there is bound to be damage.  In the end of the day, how much damage has been done ¡V no one will be there to monitor nor to give us an answer.  And once the sea is concreted over, there is no reversing back.  The concrete will not biodegrade.  How sustainable is pouring concrete into the sea?  Though northern Lantau has been ¡§done with¡¨, it doesn¡¦t mean that we have to further destroy it.


Are the development plans necessary?

The way we see it, majority of them is not.  It may seem logical to put aside a piece of land for the logistic industry.  But the proposed logistic park is created by filling up a huge chunk of the sea from outside Siu Ho Wan to Tai Ho.  Do we really need to sacrifice nature that much for a logistic park?  Would better land use in the airport accommodate for it?  Or can we find another location that doesn¡¦t involve reclamation, on Lantau or elsewhere?  From the scenery and skyline point of view, Tung Chung new town is already an eye sore at the coast, with highrise buildings protruding out ridiculously, blocking the nice view behind.  Structures at the proposed logistic park may be lower, but still, they can¡¦t possibly look better than an open view.  Do we want to turn Lantau, our biggest and amazingly beautiful island into a big eye sore?


More theme parks?

The most revolting idea of the whole Concept Plan is to fill up the sea west of Tai Ho at the tip of the Tung Chung new town development for a second theme park and recreational usage which includes an indoor beach/swimming pool right by the seaside.  First of all, a Disneyland is more than enough (in terms of destruction of the sea, scooping and stirring up of toxins from the seabed, the aftermath of handling the highly toxic dioxin left by the shipyard, creating more sewage, intensifying sea and land transport which means more stress to the dolphins and more pollutants in the air¡Ketc etc), will this Disneyland really be a huge magnet for tourists from all over the world forever?  Nobody can be sure; it could turn out to be a white elephant.  When our Mainland friends get tired of Hong Kong¡¦s Disneyland, or when Shanghai or Beijing has their own Disneyland and Universal Studio or other theme parks, will ours remain a star attraction?  If not, how many more theme parks do we have to build to draw visitors back?


Should we pride ourselves as a city that has as many theme parks as possible or though a very developed place but still be able to preserve as many as possible green spots for its citizens and the rest of the world to enjoy and to refresh themselves?  It seems the Government and the planners don¡¦t have any idea how many tourists come to Hong Kong for enjoying our city¡¦s unique natural beauty.  Nature is beautiful and attractive enough; in fact, it is breathtakingly beautiful and attractive that no creation by men can compare.  Hong Kong is so blessed with exceptional natural beauty, why do we want to destroy our natural treasures but to keep thinking of building theme parks and entertainment facilities to attract tourists?


And even if Hong Kong must have another theme park, the idea of putting it also on Lantau doesn¡¦t sound very clever.  Going to Disneyland is a whole day affair, putting another one close to it does not make it more convenient for people who also want to go to the other theme park.  If Lantau is to house so many theme parks, the Island is no longer our green spiritual backyard but a centre for artificial entertainments.  Lantau is home to our largest resource of natural wonders and spiritual temples, we should preserve it and cherish it.  For another theme park, we can have it either on west Kowloon or even the Kai-Tak airport site or any where, but please, not filling up the dolphin habitat at Lantau for it!


Lantau, the biggest island we have that still harbours so many wonderful natural resources, deserves our utmost respect and protection.


Summing up and suggestions


We do not see much effort given for conservation from the Concept Plan and we object to all the development/reclamation along the coastline.


As dolphin watchers, we find it utterly ironic that two pink dolphins are featured at the frontpage of the Concept Plan.  If all the reclamation and development are to be carried out as planned, where do we leave for the dolphins?  According to our experience, dolphins are every now and then seen very close to the shore of Siu Ho and Tai O, particularly in the summer.  We have already taken away the dolphins¡¦ core habitat at Chep Lap Kok, the least we can do is to stop destroying the sea and marine ecology there.  Dolphins need a reasonable size of habitat that allows free ranging for food and socializing, further shrinking our dolphins¡¦ habitat will make it more and more difficult for the existing population to sustain.


We urge the Government to set out clear policies to protect the dolphin habitat and to make sure that there will be no more reclamation at Lantau.  Hong Kong is the world¡¦s fastest and biggest land creator, in other words, sea destroyer.  We have done more than enough destruction.  Though the Harbour Protection Ordinance and the court ruling are about the Victoria Harbour, a responsible Government should refrain from reclamation throughout the territory.  The sea is our common asset, we don¡¦t want to see it destroyed any further.


Roads and bridges right in the middle of the dolphin habitat?

Constructing the proposed Tuen Mun-Chep Lap Kok Link will inevitably mean damage to the dolphin habitat, and even life threatening to the dolphins, considering the amount of noise, pollution and damage to the sea bed involved.


The HK-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge almost surely promises to be a dolphin killer, sitting right in the heart of the world¡¦s major pink dolphins¡¦ habitat in the waters of Pearl River Delta.  Experts and academics at universities have already voiced out their concern for the increasing traffic to Hong Kong, bringing in more air and sound pollution to our city via the Bridge.  Even constructing the Bridge won¡¦t kill a single dolphin, directly or indirectly, the air and sound pollution it carries will translate into constant stress to the dolphins, further cutting short their already shorter than normal life span.


Sustainable attraction for tourists

Theme parks and man-made entertainments may attract visitors to Hong Kong, but they are not the only attractions, and certainly not the best.  Many people would like to get close to nature.  In fact nature lovers are growing bigger and bigger in number, particularly in advanced countries.  We have something that they don¡¦t have: the amazingly beautiful pink dolphins and many other natural treasures such as the unique species of butterflies and easily accessible scenic trails, just to quote a few examples.  Generations after generations will be attracted to Hong Kong if we manage to let our natural treasures flourish.  If we give nature a chance, it will reward us better than we can hope for.


As a company who run boat trips to take people dolphin watching for ten years, we know it too well that eco-tourism is an excellent way of bringing in revenue.  Last year alone, we had more than 8,000 customers joining our boat tours and the total turnover was around HK$1.5M.  We pride ourselves in having done a very good job in initiating the dolphin watching industry in Hong Kong and in helping to enhance Hong Kong¡¦s attractiveness.  Majority of our customers are tourists from many parts of the world, quite a number of them return to see the dolphins again and again, considering it as the highlight of their stay in Hong Kong.  As two pink dolphins are put on the frontpage of the Concept Plan, it shows that the Government acknowledges that the dolphins are an icon for Hong Kong¡¦s eco-tourism and natural beauty.  We hope that it will mean that the Government will do whatever it can to protect the dolphinis and improve the condition of their habitat so that the beautiful pink dolphins can continue to enrich our city.  Pouring in concrete into the dolphins¡¦ home is doing just the opposite.


How can we do better with conservation?

We urge the Government to seriously reconsider all the reclamation plans along the Lantau coastline as the first step to better protect the dolphins and nature.  We would like to see more areas being assigned as protection areas, and the proposed marine park should expand to cover the waters off Tai O which is an area used by dolphins and finless porpoises.


Stop allowing boats that harass the dolphins

Tai O is important for protecting the dolphins as they are regularly seen there.  Unfortunately some people have been operating small boats that hold a handful of passengers, speeding out multiple times a day to let people have a quick look at the dolphins.  Since the operators only allow a very short time on the water, they charge around and fight sightings with other dolphin watching boats to satisfy their customers.  They are doing literally everything to violate the code of conduct for watching dolphins, scaring the dolphins and at the same time endangering the safety of passengers.  We urge the Government to do something to ensure that the dolphins will not be abused that way.  Otherwise, we would project a very bad image to the international world as not caring and ignorant and our Government being incompetent.


Stepping up sewage treatment

Water pollution has become a major reason for the pre-mature dying and the alarming number of death of marine mammals here.  Each year the number of confirmed death of Chinese White Dolphins accounts for about 5-10 % of the estimated population; for small size population as such, 3% is already considered too high to tolerate according to international standard.  And the most worrying thing is that the death rate of infants is exceptionally high.  This points to the fact that our dolphins do not die of natural cause such as old age but poisoned by toxins in the sea.  Giving the domestic sewage primary treatment is definitely not adequate.  We urge the government to enhance sewage treatment on Lantau for protecting our dolphins, the marine ecology and human beings as well ¡V consuming contaminated seafood is hazardous to people, citizens and tourists alike.


Collaborating with Guangdong to mininise pollution

Apart from the badly deteriorating air quality which creates a depressing and suffocating smog covering Hong Kong for more and more days in a year, visible garbage which is so disgusting to see is floating everywhere on our sea, particularly at the dolphin habitat.  Very often we hear our customers exclaim ¡§the sea here is so dirty, how disgusting!¡¨  It is embarrassing and such a disgrace to Hong Kong that there is so much garbage floating around.  Large quantity of rubbish and pollutants is flushed down from the Pearl River everyday.  To protect the dolphins and our environment, the Government should act now to cut down pollution, with the cooperation of Guangdong and to send more boats to clean up the solid waste from the surface of the sea.


Preserve our edge

Hong Kong is often compared to Shanghai and Singapore, the latter are seen as our close competitors.  If we want to maintain our edge, we have to know our strength and our resources and to make best use of them so that we can offer something different and extra.  What Shanghai and Singapore do not have, among many other unique natural wonders we are blessed with, is the wild pink dolphins who attract more and more admirers all over the world to our city.  If Lantau, particularly north Lantau, is developed as proposed by this Concept Plan, we can almost say for sure that it will be devastating to our pink dolphins who are already suffering from all sorts of threats.  Destroying Chep Lap Kok and shrinking their habitat by such magnitude is a terrible blow to the dolphins, how much more can they suffer the man-made damage?  Do we really want to see them vanish?  Do we want to see the end of our dolphin watching industry?  Is it something a responsible Government should do?


We urge the Government to do the right thing: preserve Lantau and make it as green as possible; minimise pollution and protect the sea and make it concrete free from now on so that our dolphins can continue to live here.