Contents

1                             Preamble                                                                                      

2                             Introduction                                                                               

2.1                          Background                                                                                

2.2                          Purpose of the MECP                                                                   

2.3                          Structure of the MECP                                                               

3                             Organisation, Management and Administration of the MECP 

3.1                          Geographical Coverage                                                            

3.2                          Over-Arching Aspects                                                                

3.3                          Goal                                                                                              

3.4                          Management and Financing of the MECP                               

3.5                          Proposal Selection                                                                     

3.6                          Implementation Plan                                                                 

3.7                          Review and Evaluation of the MECP                                        

4                             Key Themes of the MECP                                                              

4.1                          Background                                                                                

4.2                          Goals and Objectives                                                                  

4.3                          Potential Initiatives                                                                   

4.4                          Implementation and Funding                                                   

4.5                          Roles & Responsibility                                                                 

4.6                          Review & Evaluation                                                                  

5                             Summary                                                                                      

 

ANNEXES

Annex A  Overview of Marine Ecology and Fisheries Enhancement Strategy (MEFES)

Annex B  Physical Description and Marine Ecological Setting

Annex C  Draft Terms of Reference for Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund Management Committee

Annex D  Potential Initiatives and Performance Indicators under the Three Key Themes

 

 

1                                          Preamble

The Airport Authority Hong Kong (“AAHK”) is responsible for operation of the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).  The HKIA Master Plan 2030 (MP2030) recommended expansion of HKIA into a three-runway system (3RS) (“the Project”) as the best way forward to cope with the projected increase in air traffic demand and to secure the continual growth of HKIA operation for the benefit of the economic development of Hong Kong.  This development option for HKIA received approval in principle from the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on 20 March 2012.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Study Report for the Project was prepared in accordance with the study brief requirements (ESB-250/2012) issued by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD).  The EIA Report for the Project (Register No. AEIAR-185/2014) was approved by the EPD on 7 November 2014 and the Environmental Permit (EP) (EP No. EP-489/2014) granted on 7 November 2014.

As part of the EIA Study, AAHK has committed to formulate and implement a Marine Ecology and Fisheries Enhancement Strategy (MEFES).  The MEFES for the Project has been set up for the purpose of enhancing the marine environment for the benefit of marine ecology (including Chinese White Dolphins (CWDs)) and fisheries resources in the vicinity of the project area, in Hong Kong western waters and further afield into the Pearl River Estuary (PRE).  It is also for the purpose of providing support and assistance to affected fishers to promote more sustainable fishing operations.  Figure 1.1 presents a schematic overview of the different elements of the MEFES and their proposed funding sources.  Details of the MEFES are provided in Annex A.

In accordance with EP Conditions 2.8 and 2.13, AAHK will establish independent Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund (MEEF) and Fisheries Enhancement Fund (FEF), respectively, to fund initiatives proposed by thirdparties (eg NonGovernmental organisations (NGOs), researchers and the fishery sector) that support the objectives of the MEFES.  A Marine Ecology Conservation Plan (MECP) and a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) are developed to describe the proposed mechanism for the implementation of the MEEF and FEF as well as the goals and themes under which funding applications can be made.

This document presents the MECP of the 3RS Project.

 

2                                          Introduction

2.1                                       Background

As part of the EIA Study, AAHK has committed to formulate and implement a MEFES to contribute to enhancing marine ecology, including the CWD, and fisheries resources in north Lantau waters (refer to Section 13.13 of the EIA Report).  Through discussions with stakeholders and experts, AAHK identified the following key enhancement aspects for the MEFES:

·      Enhancement of habitats for marine ecology and fishery resources;

·      Promotion of a sustainable fisheries industry;

·      Encouragement of scientific research and studies; and

·      Promotion of environmental education and eco-tourism.

Following a request for further information, supplementary information to the EIA Study was provided to EPD to elaborate the commitments for the MEFES that were outlined in Section 13.13 of the EIA Report (available at http://www.epd.gov.hk/eia/register/report/eiareport/eia_2232014/further_info/pdf/Marine_Ecology_and_Fisheries_Enhancement_Plan.pdf). 

The four key enhancement aspects were presented in more detail in the supplementary attachment, and opportunities for additional enhancement of marine habitats during construction phase were also described. 

Supplemental information was also provided to outline the public consultation/ stakeholder engagement plan for proposed arrangements for funding and management of the enhancement initiatives, through the establishment of the FEF and MEEF and the associated Fund Management Committees.  Details of the mode of operation of the Committees, as well as procedures for allocating and awarding funding were proposed to be devised in consultation with relevant stakeholders before commencement of construction.

Additional detail on the design, operation and management of the MEFES and the implementation of the FEF and MEEF was also presented in the 200th meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment (ACE) held on 15 September 2014 which discussed the EIA Report of the 3RS Project.  ACE provided views on the EIA report to the Director of Environmental Protection (DEP) with conditions that AAHK shall establish independent MEEF and FEF for implementation of a MECP and a FMP.  AAHK shall also set up a management committee for each of the funds.

The Permit conditions set out in the EP ([1]) related to the submission of a MECP and the establishment of a MEEF are as follows.

EP No. EP-489/2014, Condition 2.8

“The Permit Holder shall establish an independent Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund (The Fund) which shall have substantial resources to meet its conservation objectives in a long-term and sustainable manner.  The Permit Holder shall, no later than 3 months before the commencement of reclamation related marine works of the Project, submit 3 hard copies and 1 electronic copy of a detailed Marine Ecology Conservation Plan (The Plan) to the Director for approval.  The Plan shall be formulated for the conservation of marine life particularly the Chinese White Dolphins (CWD) within the Hong Kong and the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) waters.  The Plan shall cover the relevant marine parks and other important marine habitats in Hong Kong to enhance their carrying capacity, “dolphin friendly” activities, the recovery of fisheries resources, and scientific research for the overall benefits of marine mammals, particularly CWD, in the PRE during the construction and the operation of the Project.  A management committee shall also be set up for The Fund with members from different stakeholders including relevant academics, green groups and dolphin experts for effective implementation of The Plan.

The Permit Holder shall consult the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation in preparing the Plan and submit The Plan and the setup of The Fund to the ACE [Advisory Council on the Environment] for comment prior to the submission to the Director for approval.”

2.2                                       Purpose of the MECP

As stated in the MEFES and EP Condition 2.8, the purpose of the MECP is, in essence, to formulate a strategy for the conservation of marine life particularly the CWDs within the Hong Kong and the PRE waters.  The MECP is intended to be applicable to the relevant existing or planned marine parks as well as to other important marine habitats in Hong Kong with an overarching aim of enhancing carrying capacity promoting “dolphin friendly” activities, encouraging the recovery of fisheries resources, and undertaking scientific research for the overall benefit of marine mammals, particularly CWD, in the PRE during the construction and the operation of the Project.  A management committee will also be set up for the MEEF with members from different stakeholder groups including relevant academics, green groups and dolphin experts for effective implementation of the MECP.  By assisting third parties through the provision of funding for education and research to support the conservation and enhancement of the marine environment, AAHK intends to create the necessary stimulus to bring conservation initiatives for these important habitats and species to fruition. 

This MECP outlines the proposed mechanism for the implementation, the funding arrangements, and the setting up of a management committee for the MEEF to manage and administer the MECP.  Some potential marine ecology conservation and enhancement example initiatives are also included in an annex to this document to provide assistance to the management committee in effectively implementing the MECP.

2.3                                       Structure of the MECP

Following this introductory section, the remainder of this MECP is organized as follows:

·      Section 3 presents the overall goal of the MECP and the organisation, management and administration of the MECP;

·      Section 4 introduces the goals, objectives as well as the implementation and evaluation of the key themes under the MECP; and

·      Section 5 summarizes the overall framework of the MECP.

3                                          Organisation, Management and Administration of the MECP

3.1                                       Geographical Coverage

The MECP has been formulated to contribute to the conservation and enhancement of marine life particularly the CWDs within Hong Kong and PRE waters.  The area of interest for this MECP therefore includes marine waters and habitats in the vicinity of the 3RS land formation area and further afield into the PRE (Figure 3.1).  Specifically this includes north Lantau, where existing and planned marine parks and other important marine habitats are located, and west Lantau, where key habitats for CWDs are found. 

It should be noted that the initiatives and measures introduced to the marine habitats of the area of interest could potentially introduce longer term benefits to the marine ecology of adjacent marine waters.  Also the area of interest may extend beyond that identified above if it is identified in the future that conservation and enhancement initiatives have been successful in this area and other areas in the vicinity would benefit from similar initiatives.

3.2                                       Over-Arching Aspects

Annex B provides a high-level description of the physical and marine ecological characteristics of western Hong Kong waters, in particular north and west Lantau waters.  This review provides the basis for identifying key habitats, species or ecological resources that may warrant focused effort in conservation, enhancement and restoration under the MECP.  A summary map of the physical and ecological setting of the 3RS project is presented in Figure 3.2.  From the information presented it is noted that there are aspects of the broader environment that provide opportunities for enhancement or restoration (recovery) to conserve marine life within the Hong Kong and the PRE waters.  The EP for the 3RS Project references the above in Condition 2.8 as follows:

“The Plan shall be formulated for the conservation of marine life particularly the Chinese White Dolphins (CWD) within the Hong Kong and the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) waters.  The Plan shall cover the relevant marine parks and other important marine habitats in Hong Kong to enhance their carrying capacity, “dolphin friendly” activities, the recovery of fisheries resources, and scientific research for the overall benefits of marine mammals, particularly CWD, in the PRE during the construction and the operation of the Project.”

3.2.1                                 Enhancement of Carrying Capacity

AAHK has identified the potential to enhance carrying capacity for marine ecology and fisheries resources in important marine habitats, including the existing and planned marine parks, during project development and operation.  A key aspect would be to investigate and implement enhancement measures in key habitats in the north Lantau / Hong Kong / PRE waters, which are not directly impacted by the 3RS construction and thus earlier implementation may be possible before or during construction of the 3RS.  These early measures could potentially cover the existing Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park (SCLKCMP) and the planned The Brothers Marine Park (BMP) which will both form part of the new interconnected marine park matrix as well as key habitats / species not limited to seagrass beds, mud flats and horseshoe crabs. 

3.2.2                                 “Dolphin Friendly” Activities

AAHK strives to further contribute to territory-wide CWD conservation through additional potential enhancement measures (i.e. “dolphin friendly” activities).  It is proposed to investigate the feasibility of implementing measures to support protection of marine habitats and CWD hotspots.  It is expected that the “dolphin friendly” activities would allow CWDs to safely use the habitats that serve as potential shelter areas for CWDs that may be temporarily displaced by 3RS marine activities.

3.2.3                                 Recovery of Fisheries Resources

AAHK is committed to identifying opportunities to restore the marine environment through feasibility studies and scientific research.  Also, as is common with elsewhere in Hong Kong where the seabed has been affected by relatively intense demersal trawling activities, restoration by means of artificial reef deployment can be explored.  Other approaches such as restoration of degraded natural coastal habitats and transplantation or relocation of rare or protected species are also included for consideration in this MECP.  Notably, the designation of the 3RS Marine Park will provide a positive influence on restoration and recovery of marine ecological resources in waters affected by the construction of the Project.

3.2.4                                 Scientific Research

Scientific information on the marine environment of the waters around the HKIA has been gathered by AAHK in the course of the 3RS EIA Study.  Important marine habitats have been identified on which conservation efforts could be focussed.  AAHK understands that the success of marine conservation programmes can be aided by having objective-driven, well-executed scientific research.  Also research can provide technology and innovation that can benefit conservation programmes.

3.3                                       Goal

As described in Section 13.13 of the EIA report, the ultimate goal of the MEFES is to contribute to enhancing marine ecology (including for CWDs) and fisheries resources in north Lantau waters.  The implementation of the 3RS Project is intended to provide an opportunity to give cumulative benefit to marine ecology in north and west Lantau waters.

3.4                                       Management and Financing of the MECP

AAHK will ensure the MECP is implemented in compliance with the requirements of Condition 2.8 of EP No. EP-489/2014 and have oversight of the implementation of studies and projects under the key aspects and initiatives of the plan.  Specific AAHK responsibilities for the key themes are presented below in Section 4 of this document.

To meet the goal and conservation objectives of the MECP in a long-term and sustainable manner, substantial resources, both financial and manpower support are essential.  An independent MEEF, managed by a management committee, will be established for effective implementation of the MECP.  It is noted that the MEEF is intended to fund studies and projects that are non-profit making in nature only.

3.4.1                                 Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund (MEEF)

The MEFES proposed as part of the EIA Study led to the development of a preliminary budget estimate for the MEEF and FEF.  The two Funds would be in total in the order of HK$200 - 300 million, subject to approval from the Board of AAHK.  Subsequently during the ACE discussion, AAHK had committed a substantial sum of up to HK$150 million for each Fund, and both Funds were initially planned to run for around 10 years, with a large portion of the fund expected to be used for scientific research, studies and follow-on actions/ initiatives in the initial years.

Recommendations from the ACE highlighted the need to provide sufficient resources to sustain the marine conservation efforts of the MECP over the long term.  In response to the recommendations, the initial plan to run the MEEF for around 10 years has been reviewed and it is apparent that a fund that can support initiatives over the long term would be much preferred and in line with ACE’s expectation.  To achieve this it is considered that an endowment fund arrangement whereby seed money is invested to target the generation of investment return to meet an annual budget (“Annual Allocation”) that is able to support the MECP in the long term.  The endowment fund arrangement is targeted to generate 4% annual return based on an optimistic forecast.  In the event that the targeted investment return is not achieved , any shortfall below the Annual Allocation as approved by the Steering Committee is proposed to be topped up by an additional top-up fund, which has a cap of HK$100 million in total for both MEEF and FEF, to ensure that resources to support MECP are not compromised.

In summary, AAHK proposes the following arrangement for the MEEF:

·      A committed initial HK$150 million allocation as an endowment fund;

·      The HK$150 million endowment arrangement is targeted to return around HK$6 million per year, these funds to be used to implement the MECP; and

·      Any shortfall below the Annual Allocation is proposed to be topped up by an additional top-up fund established for both the FEF and the MEEF, which has a cap of HK$100 million in total.

The above fund arrangement is illustrated in Figure 3.3.  The proposed arrangement provides an initial quantification of funds committed for the sustainable and long-term implementation of the MECP, representing AAHK’s commitment in contributing to enhancing marine ecology (including for the CWD) in practical and effective ways in north and west Lantau waters in the future.

Figure 3.3            Proposed Fund Arrangement for the Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund (MEEF)



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The proposed funding application, approval and allocation mechanism will be further developed and described in detail in the instrument constituting the fund, and the guidance notes and application form for the fund.

3.4.2                                 Proposed Fund Management Structure

AAHK has put continuous effort into consulting stakeholders.  Consequently, in order to formalise the process and provide a platform for dialogue AAHK will establish a management committee (MEEF-MC) to administer the MEEF for the effective implementation of the MECP.  In addition, a Steering Committee is proposed to be established to provide overall directional guidance / policies for the fund operation to enable sufficient resources will remain available for the fund to meet its objectives in a long-term and sustainable manner.  The MEEF-MC will approve recommended funding applications that are within the Annual Allocation.  The Steering Committee will not override MEEF-MC decisions on funding application approvals within the Annual Allocation and will not undermine the role of the MEEF-MC.  The management arrangement of the MEEF is illustrated in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4           Proposed Management Arrangement for the Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund Management Committee (MEEF-MC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund Management Committee (MEEF-MC)

It is envisaged that the MEEF-MC will be composed of a diverse membership including AAHK, relevant academics, green groups and dolphin experts.  Relevant stakeholders (including community leaders as well as people having expertise/ experience in managing similar funds) would also be considered for appointment into the management committee.  The exact membership will be determined subject to agreement from potential candidates.  AAHK will serve (or will procure a third party to serve) as the Secretariat for the MEEF-MC.

The remit of the MEEF-MC will be to manage and operate the MEEF so as to ensure that funds are granted to studies and projects relevant and appropriate to the key themes and initiatives of the MECP.  Its primary role is to determine the criteria for the selection of initiatives to be funded by MEEF, to make recommendations on funding applications that meet the fund objectives and approve the applications that are within the Annual Allocation approved by the Steering Committee.  The MEEF-MC will study the proposals and report the approved applications to the Steering Committee.  If the recommended funding support exceeded the Annual Allocation in any particular year, the MEEF-MC will present the recommendations to the Steering Committee for consideration and approval of the shortfall from the top-up fund.  For each approved application, appropriate reporting on progress is required and the MEEF-MC will monitor and review the project outcomes, including the effectiveness of the approved applications in achieving the goals and objectives of the MEEF, so as to make necessary refinement/ adjustment to future funding focuses.  The draft terms of reference for the MEEF-MC (which will be subject to review / revision by the committee members) has been prepared and is included in Annex C. 

Steering Committee

AAHK proposes to establish a Steering Committee to provide overall directional guidance / policies for the operation of the MEEF to enable sufficient resources will remain available for the fund to meet its objectives in a long-term and sutainable manner.  Its functions will include:

·      steering and reviewing the operations of MEEF (but it will not have authority to override matters within the exclusive power of the MEEF-MC);

·      approving the funding budget to be allocated to the MEEF-MC;

·      overseeing the use, allocation, and investment performance of the MEEF; and

·      reviewing the overall funding situation including the sufficiency and sustainability of the top-up fund arrangement.

Besides, if the total funding amount of the applications recommended by the MEEF-MC exceeds the Annual Allocation, the Steering Committee may exercise its discretion to approve the recommended application(s) for funding support by drawing the shortfall from the top-up fund.

It is envisaged that the Steering Committee will be chaired by the AAHK and composed of the chairperson of the MEEF-MC, the chairperson of the FEF-MC and other non-AAHK members nominated by reputable organisations in the environmental management, engineering, investment, or financial areas.  For clarity, there does not need to be a member in each of the areas referred to above and the members may be nominated by one or more reputable organisations.  The exact membership will be determined subject to agreement from potential candidates.  AAHK will serve (or will procure a third party to serve) as the Secretariat for the Steering Committee.  It should be noted that the Steering Committee is also proposed to provide oversight to the FEF and FMP to be prepared under separate cover.

Appointment Procedure

The Secretariat will invite reputable organisations in the environmental management, engineering, investment, or financial areas to nominate person(s) having relevant professional expertise / experience to occupy the seats of 4 member(s) of the Steering Committee. 

The Secretariat will:

·      appoint the persons nominated by the organisation(s) as described above to be those 4 members above of the Steering Committee upon their acceptance; and

·      appoint the person nominated by AAHK as described above to be the Chairperson of the Steering Committee upon their acceptance.

3.4.3                                 MEEF-MC Membership

It is suggested that the membership reflects the three broad themes that will comprise the MECP.  It is proposed that the committee will comprise of 11 to 13 members (including the Chairperson), including Green Group representative(s), Academic(s), Dolphin Expert(s), up to 2 representatives nominated by AAHK and other Relevant Stakeholder(s).  It is envisaged that AAHK will not chair the MEEF-MC.  The code of conduct will be agreed amongst the MEEF-MC.

Green Group representative(s)

Green group representative(s) will be engaged as the member(s) of the MEEF-MC with a suggested focus of overseeing the sustainability of projects, especially in the Marine Education and Tourism theme and to provide insight on the potential benefits to the communities throughout the execution of the project.

Academic(s)

Academic(s) will be engaged as the member(s) of the MEEF-MC with a suggested focus of overseeing the technical feasibility of projects, especially in the Marine Conservation and Marine Research themes.  They will justify the proposed assessment for the measurement of project performance as well as to provide comments and advice that may enhance effectiveness of projects.

Dolphin Expert(s)

As one of the core focuses of the MECP is the conservation of CWDs within the Hong Kong and PRE waters, Dolphin Expert(s) will be engaged as member(s) of the MEEF-MC to provide advice and guidance on the selection and implementation of projects that may advance scientific understanding of CWDs in HK waters and the PRE and which may contribute to the long-term conservation of CWDs and their habitats.

AAHK Member(s)

As the core focus areas of the MEEF-MC are environmental enhancement and community benefit, it is suggested that there will be up to 2 representatives nominated by AAHK on the Committee, which may include the associated specialist / environmental consultant(s).

Relevant Stakeholder(s)

Community leader(s) as well as people having expertise / experience in managing similar funds will be considered for appointment into the MEEF-MC to provide advice on the fund administration and help streamline the implementation and management of the fund.

Appointment Procedure

The Secretariat of the MEEF-MC will compile a list of potential candidates including, but not limited to, any member of any consultative and advisory committee of the AFCD to be the Chairperson and members of the MEEF-MC that satisfy the composition stated above. 

The Secretariat will invite the potential candidate(s) to be Chairperson or member(s) of the MEEF-MC.

The Secretariat will appoint the candidate(s) to be Chairperson or member(s) of the MEEF-MC upon their acceptance.  If potential candidate(s) declined the invitation, the Secretariat will propose alternative candidate(s) to ensure that the MEEF-MC would meet the composition requirements stated above.

Each member of the MEEF-MC will be appointed for a fixed term of 3 years, unless otherwise agreed with that member.

3.4.4                                 Secretariat Structure, Role & Responsibilities

AAHK will provide secretarial services (or will procure the provision of secretarial services by an external third party) to the MEEF to facilitate the functions of the Steering Committee and the MEEF-MC.

The secretariat will:

·      be responsible for the preparation of meeting notices, agendas, meeting translation and minute taking;

·      collate progress reports / final reports submitted by funded projects, as well as the summary of total applications received, successful applications, ongoing projects and completed projects in a year for review and reference by the Steering Committee and the MEEF-MC; and

·      work with the AAHK and the Chairperson of the MEEF-MC to ensure proper expertise is present at relevant meetings.

3.5                                       Proposal Selection

It is expected that criteria for the selection of successful initiatives for funding will be formulated and agreed by the MEEF-MC.  The Steering Committee will not override a decision of the MEEF-MC and will not undermine the role of the MEEF-MC.  In general, it is anticipated proposals will be evaluated based on the strength of their contribution to MEFES objectives, especially the conservation goals to be discussed in Section 4, and the overarching aspects stated in Section 3.2 in terms of providing the outcomes that will clearly benefit habitats and species and stakeholders (public and fishers ([2])) (Figure 3.5).  It is expected that while proposals may focus on one theme, they may be able to contribute across other themes, which could be taken into account in evaluations.

3.6                                      Implementation Plan

It is expected that the MECP will be implemented throughout the construction and operation phases of the 3RS Project and into the future.  AAHK endeavours to implement the MECP and approve and allocate funding to studies and projects that meet the goal and objectives of the MECP as soon as practical subject to the timely establishment and recommendations from the MEEF-MC.  A tentative programme for the implementation of the MECP is presented in Table 3.1.  The AAHK has been conducting consultations with relevant stakeholders and the AFCD to formulate the MECP.  It is expected that the MECP will be submitted to ACE for comment in Q4 2015, followed by submission to the DEP in Q1 2016.  The establishment of MEEF and MEEF-MC will commence after the final approval by the DEP and the fund is planned to be in place for application in Q3 2016.

Table 3.1             Tentative Programme for the Implementation of MECP

Key Tasks

Time

Consultation with relevant stakeholders and the AFCD

2015 - Ongoing

Submission of MECP to ACE for comment

2015 Q4

Submission of MECP to the DEP for approval

2016 Q1

Establishment of the MEEF and MEEF-MC

2016 Q2 (1)

Call for funding applications

2016 Q3 (1)

Note:

(1) Subject to the final approval by the DEP.

3.7                                      Review and Evaluation of the MECP

In order to determine whether the MECP is successful in achieving the goals presented in Section 3.3 it is important to implement a mechanism for reviewing and evaluating the success of the Plan and supported initiatives.  Review and evaluation mechanisms are proposed for each of the three themes in Section 4.  The MEEF-MC will monitor the performance of the funded applications so as to make necessary refinement/ adjustment to future funding focuses.

4                                          Key Themes of the MECP

4.1                                       Background

The MECP aims to achieve its conservation goals by supporting studies and intitiatives leading to:

·      Enhancement of habitats for marine ecology and fishery resources;

·      Encouragement of scientific research and studies; and

·      Promotion of environmental education and eco-tourism.

The MECP is therefore organized into three themes, each of which is developed further and discussed in detail below.  These themes are:

·      Marine Habitat & Resource Conservation & Enhancement Theme;

·      Scientific Research & Studies Theme; and

·      Environmental Education & Eco-tourism Theme.

4.1.1                                 Marine Habitat & Resource Conservation & Enhancement

In order to compensate for the seabed habitat and open waters habitat loss associated with the land formation for the 3RS project, the establishment of a new Marine Park is proposed which would comprise an area of approximately 2,400 ha.  It is expected that the new Marine Park would provide critical linkages between the current SCLKCMP (1,200 ha) and the planned BMP (850 ha).  It is important to note that the establishment of the new Marine Park is an EIA commitment made by AAHK for the compensation of habitat loss due to the land formation for the 3RS project and hence is not a part of the MECP.  While a number of the management measures / controls / restrictions in a marine park are the responsibility of the Country and Marine Parks Authority (i.e. AFCD and the Country and Marine Parks Board), certain initiatives can be undertaken by others to enhance the marine ecology within the new Marine Park as well as within the wider marine park matrix formed by the new Marine Park, the SCLKCMP and the planned BMP.  The Marine Habitat and Resource Conservation and Enhancement Theme therefore presents opportunities for enhancing the value of the new marine park and related initiatives may be funded under the MECP.

In addition, initiatives to facilitate conserving or enhancing other key marine habitats / species found in north Lantau waters can also be explored under the Marine Habitat and Resource Conservation and Enhancement Theme.  Such enhancements may provide beneficial effects on the ecology of north Lantau waters while also providing opportunity for ecological enhancement during the construction stage of the 3RS, prior to the new Marine Park designation.

4.1.2                                 Scientific Research & Studies

Scientific information on the marine environment of western Hong Kong waters has been gathered by AAHK in the course of undertaking the 3RS EIA.  Important marine habitats have been identified on which conservation efforts could be focussed.  AAHK understands that the success of marine conservation programmes can be aided by having objective-driven, well-executed scientific research, and has subsequently identified a variety of studies that could be funded as part of the MECP.  Scientific research may be directed towards:

·      Providing long-term monitoring/ in-depth understanding of marine ecology/ fisheries resources in western Hong Kong waters as well as the wider PRE;

·      Providing accurate and timely scientific information and advice for management of the Marine Parks and the surrounding environs;

·      Increasing our understanding of the natural variability of the ecosystems and their response to natural or anthropogenic disturbances;

·      Ensuring that decision making and recommendations are supported by the most appropriate available scientific information; and

·      The strategic and effective application of the research findings to conservation strategies and action plans.

4.1.3                                 Environmental Education & Eco-tourism

The north Lantau coast and northwest Lantau waters are rich in marine ecological and fisheries resources, which has long been recognized by the general public of Hong Kong.  These include coastal habitats such as mudflats, mangroves and seagrass habitats at Tai Ho Stream SSSI, Tung Chung Bay, San Tau Beach SSSI and Sha Lo Wan.  These coastal habitats support abundant and diverse intertidal assemblages and also are identified as nursery grounds for horseshoe crabs.  The existing footpaths along the North Lantau coasts enhance the public accessibility to these natural coastal habitats and this provides good opportunities for the public to appreciate these natural resources and raise their awareness on the importance of conserving these valuable resources.  Besides visiting the coastal habitats, guided eco-tours for dolphin watching are also popular tourist activities in western and northwestern Lantau waters (e.g. Tai O). 

Under the Environmental Education and Eco-tourism Theme, initiatives are proposed to promote public awareness of natural habitat and species conservation issues as well as to facilitate the development of eco-tourism of coastal and CWD habitats in Hong Kong western waters.

4.2                                       Goals and Objectives

4.2.1                                 Marine Habitat & Resource Conservation & Enhancement

The main goal of the Marine Habitat and Resource Conservation and Enhancement Theme is to enhance marine ecology within the new Marine Park, the wider marine park matrix as well as other key habitats / species in the north Lantau waters.  In addition, enhancement initiatives in the broader surrounds of Hong Kong and neighbouring PRE waters may also be considered.

The main objectives of this theme are as follows:

·      Support investigation and implementation of habitat enhancement measures that will be beneficial to the new Marine Park and its wider matrix;

·      Assist investigation and implementation of ecological enhancement measures of key habitats / species in the north Lantau waters, which are not directly impacted by the 3RS construction and thus earlier implementation is possible before or during construction of the 3RS.  These early measures could potentially cover the existing SCLKCMP and planned BMP which will form the new marine park matrix as well as key habitats / species including but not limited to seagrass beds, mud flats and horseshoe crabs; and

·      Assist other enhancement initiatives in the wider marine environment in Hong Kong and neighbouring PRE.

4.2.2                                 Scientific Research & Studies

The overall goal of the Scientific Research and Studies Theme under the MECP would be to establish the characteristics of different marine ecological resources and their natural variability in the western waters of Hong Kong as well as the wider PRE for CWDs.  Findings would be used to facilitate the allocation of conservation effort in order to focus on areas / species of high ecological / conservation importance and interest.  This would allow cost-efficient and ecologically-relevant conservation programmes to be conducted in the future as a priority.  

4.2.3                                 Environmental Education & Eco-tourism

The main goal of this Environmental Education and Eco-tourism Theme is to facilitate the recreational / eco-tourism experience of visitors to the north and northwest Lantau areas and to provide educational opportunities to raise public awareness on natural habitat and species conservation issues.  Specific objectives of this theme include the following:

·        To upgrade the existing facilities or provide new facilities to enhance eco-tourism experiences in the area (e.g. provision of interpretative signs and panels, development of mobile-friendly applications, etc);

·        To provide education materials to the public to promote their understanding of marine ecological resources and their conservation values in Hong Kong;

·        To organise campaigns and education programmes for the public on marine conservation; and

·        To provide training to eco-tourism service providers and frontline environmental protection staff for capacity building on implementation of conservation plan.

4.3                                       Potential Initiatives

Indicative lists of example initiatives under each of the three themes are provided in Annex D.  The lists are not considered to be definitive, but demonstrate the range of opportunities under the MEFES for developing a long-term understanding of the relevant key conservation aspects in Hong Kong and the PRE.  It should be noted that the actual initiatives to be undertaken under each theme will be proposed by third-party applicants for consideration by the MEEF-MC.

4.4                                       Implementation and Funding

The initiatives of the three themes involve substantial activities that need to be conducted during the construction and operational phases of the 3RS development.  It is expected that initiatives submitted by third-parties will have focused implementation/work plans as discussed with AAHK and MEEF-MC and that these would be separate activity driven documents and therefore are not included within this MECP.

The funding applications for each initiative will depend on project / research interest; it is not possible to estimate funding allocation for individual initiative at this stage.  Funding for initiatives will be as per funding agreements between third-party applicants and the MEEF-MC and are also not included in this MECP. 

4.5                                       Roles & Responsibility

Several entities are identified who will be integral to achieving the overall goal of three key themes.  These entities and their roles and responsibilities are presented below. 

AAHK

The main role of the AAHK will be:

·       To ensure the MECP is implemented in compliance with the requirements of Condition 2.8 of EP No. EP-489/2014;

·       To coordinate with relevant authorities on the implementation of further enhancement measures within the relevant marine parks as well as other key habitats / species in the north Lantau / Hong Kong / PRE waters; and

·       To encourage NGO(s) and researchers to take leadership of certain initiatives and focus areas under the three themes of the MECP.

NGO(s)

It is expected that local NGO(s) may pursue certain initiatives and focus areas under the three themes, including scientific research and education, potentially including reporting on study progress to the MEEF-MC regularly.

Researchers

It is expected that there may be a need to conduct specialist research, design or monitoring studies as outlined in Annex D.  The researcher will have to report on progress of the research, design or monitoring activities and studies to the MEEF-MC.

MEEF-MC

The main role of the MEEF-MC will be to oversee the management and implementation of the MECP and to provide peer review guidance to the progress of specialist studies / projects related to the three themes. 

4.6                                       Review & Evaluation

In order to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of supported initiatives under the three themes a process of ongoing performance evaluation is proposed.  It is suggested that performance evaluation shall be arranged around a group of specific high level performance indicators.  The example performance indicators envisaged at this early stage are detailed in Annex D.  The MEEF-MC will monitor the performance of the funded applications so as to make necessary refinement/ adjustment to future funding focuses.

It should be noted that the performance indicators will be set and agreed between the third-party applicants and the MEEF-MC for the actual initiatives to be undertaken under each theme.

5                                          Summary

This document presents details on the proposed mechanism for the implementation, the funding arrangements, and the setting up of a management committee for the MEEF to manage and administer the MECP.  The MECP is intended to be applicable to the relevant existing or planned marine parks as well as to other important marine habitats in Hong Kong with an overarching aim of enhancing carrying capacity, promoting “dolphin friendly” activities, encouraging the recovery of fisheries resources and undertaking scientific research for the overall benefits of marine mammals, particularly CWDs, in the PRE during the construction and the operation of the Project.  In addition, the document contains information on the goals, management and administration of the MECP and introduces the three themes that when implemented are expected to achieve the stated goals.  These themes are:

·      Marine Habitat & Resource Conservation & Enhancement Theme;

·      Scientific Research & Studies Theme; and

·      Environmental Education & Eco-tourism Theme.

To meet the conservation objectives in a long-term and sustainable manner, it is considered that an endowment fund arrangement whereby seed money is invested to generate an annual investment return that is able to support the MECP in the long term.  In the event that the targeted investment return is not achieved, any shortfall below the Annual Allocation is proposed to be topped up by an additional top-up fund to ensure that resources to support MECP are not compromised.  It is important to note that the endowment fund with top-up fund arrangement would allow funds to be available sustainably and AAHK will ensure the MECP is implemented in compliance with the requirements of Condition 2.8 of EP No. EP-489/2014 and have oversight of the implementation of studies and projects under the key aspects and initiatives of the plan.

AAHK will establish a MEEF-MC, composing of members from AAHK, relevant academics, green groups, dolphin experts and relevant stakeholders to administer the MEEF for the effective implementation of the MECP and approve the applications that are within the Annual Allocation.  In addition, a Steering Committee is proposed to be established to provide overall directional guidance / policies for the fund operation to enable sufficient resources will remain available for the fund to meet its objectives in a long-term and sustainable manner.  It is planned to establish the MEEF and MEEF-MC in Q2 2016 and initiate fund application in Q3 2016, subject to the final approval by the DEP.


 



([1]) http://www.epd.gov.hk/eia/register/permit/latest/ep4892014.htm

([2]) Fishers refer to fishermen and people related to fishing industry.