Andy Cornish's Blog

Dr Andy Cornish was raised in Hong Kong, and gained a strong interest in wildlife through spending time in Pokfulam Country Park. He studied Zoology at Nottingham University in England, travelled extensively through Central America where he learnt to scuba dive, and later did his PhD on reef fishes at the University of Hong Kong. Since then, he worked for a year doing coral reef management for the government of American Samoa, and taught in the Dept. of Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong. He worked at WWF from 2005 to late 2012 as Conservation Director, and was responsible for four programmes: Climate, Footprint, Local Biodiversity and Regional Wetlands (including management of the Mai Po Nature Reserve). He remains involved in environmental issues on an independent basis.
A Quick Guide
October 1, 2013

Once a month or so I get sent pictures of trawlers in Hong Kong asking - Is this boat trawling illegally? So I thought I'd put together this quick guide.
Prior to the trawling ban at the end of 2012, there were about 1,100 trawlers based in Hong Kong, and more than 90% had the permits to fish in mainland water. Only about 400 of these primarily fished in Hong Kong. Since Chinese New Year, the Government has started a scheme to buy-back those 400 trawlers whose owners wish to volunteer to sell them to Government, and these will eventually be scrapped, sunk as artificial reefs etc. The trawler owners can alternately continue to fish in mainland water, sell their boats on the open-market, convert them into dive boats etc. The buy-back scheme will last until Dec 2015, and even after then there will still be hundreds of trawlers based in Aberdeen, Shau Kei Wan, Cheung Chau and Tuen Mun, that travel south out of Hong Kong waters before putting their nets down. This...

Public consultation kicks off
December 8, 2012

Last year my parents treated me to a day at the Eden Project in southern England, a kind of social and environmental theme park. Set in an old quarry, it offers a brilliant day out and certainly manages to educate, without ever being boring or preachy. The anarchic sense of humour was a such a wonderful contrast to the plodding style used to promote environmental issues in Hong Kong. As someone who had lived on Lamma for more than a decade, I was immediately struck by the immense possibilities for a such a venture in the ex-quarry at Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma.
The Lamma quarry was rehabilitaed in 2002 and is a decent sized site, at 20 hectares with a made-made lake inhabited by egrets, and alongside Sok Kwu Wan bay. Over the years the perimeter fence surrounding it disintegrated, and it became one of my favourite running destinations.  
Now Government plans to develop the site and launched a...

Buying and Wasting Less Would Be a Start
August 26, 2013

The population of the most populous city on the planet is on the move. In the 1950s just 13% of people in China lived in cities. By 2010 that figure was 45%, and by 2030 that figure will rise to over 60%.
Living more densely can reduce the amount of carbon emitted per person with people walking rather than driving to the shops, and by being packed into smaller spaces. The disadvantages include a major disconnect with nature and the areas that produce and supply cities with food and fibre, to such a degree that it can be very difficult to judge the impacts of our behaviour on the rest of planet - even if we wanted to. We're increasingly training ourselves to judge food by the information on the packaging, and to look for organic, Fairtrade, MSC and other certifications, but how on earth would you go about judging whether the amount of meat you eat, or...

A Timely Gem
September 8, 2013

The number of niche non-government environmental educational centres continues to rise, and a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasuse of being shown around one of the newest kids on the block - the Tai Tam Tuk Eco Educational Centre. Andy Niven, an avid diver and architect who has been heavily involved in supporting the establishment of the Centre - which opened last year - was my guide.
Tai Tam Tuk, at the back of Tai Tam bay is one of the few sleepy backwaters left on Hong Kong Island, and the Centre is well-situated just off the road and close to the sea. They offer a number of courses on sustainable development for students of all ages that take full advantage of the history and natural environment of Tai Tam Tuk, with its historic and imposing reservoir dam (completed in 1917), shallow inlets and mangroves. All kinds of mangrove residents were evident as Andy and I explored, from egrets to fiddler crabs and...

An unusual find in Sai Kung
April 15, 2013

In the late 1990’s when I was working on the field-guide Reef Fishes of Hong Kong, I spent a lot of time searching through wet markets and fisher’s catches looking for unusual fishes to include in the book. I havn’t had much time to indulge in this particular passion in the last decade but I still keep an eye out when I’m near the sea and over the weekend found myself in Sai Kung town so decided to have a good scan through the skiffs selling their wares to visitors around the piers.
Some of the boats are simply operating as little rent-free retail outlets and sell imported wild-caught and farmed fish, shrimps, lobsters and the like but some are genuine fishers selling the day’s catch from local waters. It’s not always easy to tell which is which, but those that include small, miscellaneous species including rabbitfish and rockfish are almost certainly local. The diversity of species wasn’t bad and a few boxfish and even a...

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