Reef Check 2017 finds corals in healthy and stable condition

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced today (December 2) that the Reef Check this year showed that local corals are generally in a healthy and stable condition and exhibit a rich diversity of fauna species.

     Hong Kong Reef Check 2017, a four-month exercise that started in June, covered marine areas in the eastern part of Hong Kong extending from Tung Ping Chau in the north to the Ninepin Group in the south, including a number of sites of ecological importance. Among the 33 survey sites, nine were within the Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau marine parks.

     A variation in coral coverage, ranging from 11.4 per cent to 83.5 per cent, was recorded among the survey sites. Twenty sites recorded high coral coverage (above 50 per cent).

Among all sites, Sharp Island North recorded the highest coral coverage of 83.5 per cent.

     Reef Check 2017 assessed the condition of corals at 11 sites using the Coral Watch tool. By measuring the colour intensity of the coral using a specially designed Coral Health Monitoring Chart, the health condition of corals can then be determined. The average health index of the sites was 4.09 (ranging from 3.69 to 4.45), which was similar to last year's figure (4.11).

The average health index is well above the general average value (3), indicating corals are in a healthy and stable condition.

     Hong Kong Reef Check's survey method and data collection follow international standards. Reef Check divers recorded coral coverage and health status as well as other indicator species (including 20 fishes and invertebrates). The data helps assess the coral condition and fauna diversity of a coral reef ecosystem over time.

Most of the survey sites were found to have a high species diversity. All of the 20 assigned indicator species were recorded in the survey sites, with wrasses, groupers, butterfly fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cowries commonly found.

     Coral bleaching and some coral damage were observed at a few sites but the impact was minor and localised.

     No signs of destructive fishing practices were observed at any sites. Abandoned nets were found at a few sites but the impacts were minor.

The AFCD will arrange contractor to clear the nets.

     Seventy-two dive teams comprising more than 760 volunteer divers from different sectors of the community took part in the Reef Check this year. The AFCD awarded souvenirs and certificates to the reef check teams and participating scientists to recognise their contributions.

     Hong Kong Reef Check is part of a global programme to promote sustainable management of coral reefs. The first Reef Check was held by the Hong Kong Reef Check Foundation in 1997.

The AFCD has collaborated with the Foundation in conducting the survey since 2000.

Published on: 2017-12-02

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