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.
Government announces new initiative to tackle marine litter too
October 26, 2012

This week ended on a real high, and not just as it was a four day week. This afternoon no less than the Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, and the Environment Bureau's KS Wong and Christine Loh hosted an event to thank all the organisations who took part in the plastic pellet clean-up. Everyone had a chance to share their experiences, but I couldn't help feeling the absence of Gary Stokes with a heavy heart, as he has been so instrumental in the clean-up collaboration. Apparently he couldn't get back from the Philippines due to bad weather there.
At the closed door event, and then afterwards to a packed media KS Wong announced that the government will form a new inter-departmental working group to address marine litter. This is badly needed as no less than 4 departments are responsible for cleaning up marine litter, while others can take actions to stop the litter getting in the sea in the first place.
I then had the ultimate pleasure of...

Integrated with the HKCSS Caring Company awards
October 23, 2012

WWF's Low-carbon Office Operations Programme (LOOP) and Low Carbon Manufacturing Programme (LCMP) have been accepted by HKCSS as fulfilling the Environmental label criteria under the Environmental scope of their Caring Company awards for 2012. This is excellent recognition for the two programmes, and completely appropriate as neither programme is lightweight, but requires dedication and support from senior management to achieve.
At the latest count 56 factories with a whopping 80,000 employees in the Guangdong and Shanghai regions are in the LCMP programme, while more than 100 offices have taken part in LOOP, and 40 offices are undergoing external audits this year to get certified, double last year thanks to free audits offered by CLP and HKE. The government has yet to take tackling...

Palau up close
October 22, 2012

Last month I wrote about a workshop I organized on sustainable shark fisheries as a tool to conserve sharks, the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to see first hand the other main approach to conserving sharks in their natural environment – the shark sanctuary. Palau pioneered the approach in 2009 with an announcement by their President Johnson Toribiong at a United Nations event that all commercial shark fishing would be banned in its waters – covering a whopping 600,000 sq km. This was not the first global marine protected area that included sharks by a long shot, but it was an excellent bit of branding.
Promotion of the shark sanctuary begins way before you land, as the header for the immigration form handed out inflight proudly declares “Welcome to Palau, the world’s first Shark Sanctuary!” and is beautifully illustrated with sharks. Step off the plane and you’re also greeted with large signboards with similar...

Exploring Hong Kong's mini Mariana Trench
September 24, 2012

The last 18 months have been a strange period for observers trying to assess the value Government places on the sea. Mid-2011 saw a determined Food and Health Bureau, supported by WWF and many others get a ban on all trawling passed unopposed by Legco. Then just a few months later CEDD initiated a large-scale public consultation on reclaiming the sea to enhance land supply, and during the consultation released a controversial map showing 25 possible reclamation sites. WWF expressed our concerns, and then again more forcefully.
Fast forward to a few weeks agon when I saw drafts of the...

Conserving sharks, what role for sustainable shark fisheries?
September 16, 2012

Despite long-standing global concerns on declining shark populations, many nations have yet to take any serious action to conserve sharks and populations continue to decline in many oceans of the world. While many shark fisheries remain poorly managed, the first Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fishery for sharks (spiny dogfish in British Columbia) was certified in 2011, showing that intrinsic difficulties in sustainably fishing these often long-lived and slow growing predators can be overcome, at least for some species.
Within the Asia-Pacific region, the development of sustainable fisheries for sharks seems a distant prospect. Some nations like Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives have simply banned shark fishing in their waters. As Hong Kong remains one of the top trading hubs for dried shark products in the wold, it was fitting that the Seafood Summit recently held in Hong Kong (6-8 Sept) ended up having such a shark flavour. The Summit, organised by...

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