Many rare species of seahorses have been discovered in Hong Kong waters, but their population density is less than those in other tropical locations in Asia due to the impact of human activities, environmental protection experts said.
The city needs to roll out a comprehensive environment protection policy to ensure their survival and propagation, they said.
One of these rare species is the Spotted Seahorse, found in coastal areas around Tolo Harbour and Channel in the northeast New Territories, including Lung Mei, Hoi Ha Wan, Lo Fu Wat and Tap Mun, according to a study compiled by the Eco-Education & Resources Centre and Green Power.
The study was based on 36 visits to Hong Kong sites in the 18 months to October 2013.
Another rare species is the Seaweed Pipefish, found in Mirs Bay, particularly in Kat O and Ping Chau, the study showed. Other species were found in the waters of Sai Kung and Lantau Island.
However, the lower density of seahorses in Hong Kong compared with other places such as the Philippines showed that their population is negatively affected by human activities in the city, Green Power said.
Hong Kong is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, but has yet to promulgate a law to protect seahorses and pipefishes, the group said.
Green Power called on the government to take stronger efforts to reduce land reclamation and protect ecological resources in rivers and coastal areas.
The Environmental Protection Department regularly deploys staff to remote beaches such as Hoi Ha Wan, where many of these rare species are found, to warn visitors against taking away or hurting the sea animals, observers said.
However, as the number of visitors to these coastal areas is rising, the government should allocate more resources to guard these sites and promote environmental protection to the public.
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