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.
Super trawler caught illegally fishing
December 27, 2012

For most people, "illegal fishing" probaly conjures up an image of a small skiff with a couple of guys sneaking into a protected area under the cover of darkness. Or similar. The majority of incidents globally probably do involve small-scale opportunistic fishers, but here's a shocking example from the other end of the spectrum - deliberate, calculated piracy on an industrial scale.
These outfits are well resourced, and often do their dirty work away from developed countries where enforcement is weak, so its unusual for them to be caught red-handed like this - in the EU no less.
Th following article is taken from The Connexion online newspaper. It's quite incredible how unrepentent the owners of the vessel are, complaining instead about lost profits. Anyway, this just demonstrates the importance of knowing where your seafood comes from, and making sure that it is from sustainable sources to ensure that YOU are not bankrolling...

A policy address brimming with green treats
December 26, 2012

Last week local media reported that during CY Leung's first visit as CE to Beijing, that outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao encouraged him to tackle social issues, saying “The SAR government has to particularly pay heed to, and properly solve, livelihood problems such as employment, prices, housing, poverty, the environment and the ageing population, which are matters of practical interest to our Hong Kong compatriots.” 
China's leadership has far stronger policy initiatives that our SAR, but the environment is also a key area for CY Leung. I have high hopes that this year's policy address on the 16 January will see the announcement of new initiatives, and strengthening of existing measures, being delayed as it has been from October. Carrie Lam and KS Wong have met with senior representatives from eNGOs and many others in the past months, and received a wealth of suggestions, such as for a strong implementation of the Convention on...

Be careful what you wish for
December 18, 2012

I attended a Civic Exchange talk this morning by Tony Wood the Energy Program Director of the Grattan Institute, who shared lessons learnt from the Australian experience of how/how not to stimulate investment in low carbon electricity generation with different kinds of government policies. The subject was dry enough to warrant a Red Fire warning - but I did find one sharing particularly relevant to Hong Kong.
That is, policies have to be carefully thought out to match the full aspirations of emission reduction related targets, or there may be unintended consequences. As an example was given of an target for renewable energy (RE) that was intended to spark a wave of investment in a broad swathe of RE devices -but actually ended up all focused on the same RE technoology. as it provided the most cost-efficient solution at the time the policy was set.
The lesson is relevant locally as while there is general consensus that we should move to a low-...

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...

Now wouldn’t that be an idea
November 22, 2012

An idea popped into my head a few weeks ago – why not use trawlers to round up the trash on the seabed in the last few weeks before they cease operating in Hong Kong waters?
The concept spilled out from a lot of time spent thinking about how best to rid our coastline and sea of floating trash – and also a growing sense of anticipation as we are only six weeks away from the ban on all trawling coming into effect. The trawl ban and Adopt A Beach project both have incredible potential to radically change the way that we value our sea …. but not all trash floats.
Some of the most depressing images burned in my memory cells from working on marine issues in Hong Kong for more than fifteen years are of the catches of trawlers I’ve been out on. Not just the pitiful size of many of the organisms, and the hundreds tossed back dead, but also the amount of rubbish pulled up. Junk Bay was particularly bad, but virtually every net...

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