Live coral has practically been wiped out at Hoi Ha in Sai Kung, am730 Daily News reported Thursday, citing The Professional Commons.
The think tank said the coral cover — a measure of the proportion of reef surface covered by live stony coral instead of sponges, algae, or other organisms — dropped to zero on Monday from over 40 percent in November.
It estimated that as much as 0.5 square kilometer of coral surface was affected, and the rapid disappearance could be due to recent development in the area.
Stanley Ng Wing-fai, chairman of the think tank, said in a Sing Tao Daily report that the government is conducting a public consultation on the proposed zoning of Pak Sha O in Sai Kung, with a view to assigning part of the area for agricultural activity and expanding the scope of village-type developments.
Should the government’s proposals be approved, the Hoi Ha waters could be under catastrophic threats, as large-scale construction works can be expected, Ng said.
The Planning Department has proposed allocating 0.18 hectare of the 33-hectare Pak Sha O for agricultural purposes, and a further 1.24 hectare of land for the construction of 49 houses under the New Territories Small House Policy.
Pak Sha O is a freshwater wetland of high ecological value and is connected with Hoi Ha via a river.
If Pak Sha O is hit by pollution from human activity, then Hoi Ha will be affected.
Divers observed Monday that many underwater rocks were no longer covered by coral reef and sea urchins have massively invaded the coral surface.
Ng said the pollution at Hoi Ha has been aggravated in recent years by increased disposal of domestic waste water from nearby village houses and soil and water loss created by the exploitation of land and forest.
The Professional Commons suggested designating all 33 hectares of the land at Pak Sha O as country park and the green zones at Hoi Ha as a natural conservation zone.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department should take action to control the breeding of sea urchins, it said.
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