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Fisheries Enhancement Fund - Pearl Farming Pilot Project

23  May  2020

Fisheries Enhancement Fund - Pearl Farming Pilot Project

In 2017, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) has set up the Fisheries Enhancement Fund in accordance with the conditions of the Environmental Permit for the Three-runway System project, to support the sustainable development of fisheries industry and enhance fisheries resources. One of the funded projects is the Pearl Farming Pilot Project which is now in its third project year.

The recipient fisheries association hopes to develop pearl farming in Hong Kong again. The project has started three years ago. Baby oysters that are 2cm to 3cm in length are first purchased, after being cultured for a year and a half, the oysters have grown to around 5cm and pearl nuclei could be planted, the oysters are then continued to be cultivated in the sea. Water quality and environment are strictly monitored in the process. Coming to the third project year, the pearls are now ready to be harvested.

Wong For Kam, Project Leader, said, "Around 12,000 oysters have been successfully cultured and have nuclei planted, we are happy with the 60% (success rate)."

After being harvested and further processed, the pearls could be sold as jewellery and other parts of the oysters could be processed into pearl powder, dried oyster and more.

Peter Lee, General Manager, Environment, Projects of the AA, said, "The project has reached its goal as we hope that fishermen can acquire the skills and understand the process of pearl farming through this project, as well as probe into the possibility of commercialisation of the product after harvest. This has been the aim of the project throughout the years."

Wong For Kam, Project Leader, said, "The Fisheries Enhancement Fund has been of a great help for local fishermen. There are some projects that we have never done but would like to try, like pearl farming. With the enhancement fund, when our trial is successful, we, fishermen, would have one more way out."

Professor Kenneth Leung, Chairperson, Fisheries Enhancement Fund Management Committee, said, "I think the intention of the fund is very good, allowing fishermen to try out new things, and expanding its field of cooperation, such as collaborating with academia or green groups, and can even be organising eco-tours or guided tours etc., or assisting them to enhance maritime safety when working."

Since the establishment of the Fisheries Enhancement Fund, a total of HK$12.9 million has been granted to 10 projects to facilitate the opportunities for sectors related to the fisheries industry and diversified development. The fund will continue to welcome project applications to foster the development and transitioning of the fisheries industry.