Airport says white dolphins are doing fine; environmentalists aren’t so sure

Airport says white dolphins are doing fine; environmentalists aren’t so sure

Environmentalists want proof that the new ferry routes aren’t scaring away endangered Chinese white dolphins

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One government estimate says the number of dolphins in local waters dropped by a quarter in 2015.
Photo: Felix Wong/SCMP

The Hong Kong Airport Authority says that changing the route of its high-speed ferry service hasn’t affected the endangered Chinese white dolphin. But environmental advisers aren’t so sure.

In December 2015, the authority decided to send Zhuhai and Macau-bound ferries north and northwest from Lantau Island and through a narrow corridor between north Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park and the Urmston Road anchorage area.

Members of the Advisory Council on the Environment at the time said that this would be a bad idea, as the new route cut through one of the many places the dolphins live. So they limited the number of ferries and put a 15-knot speed limit in a zone within the passage.


Searching Tai O's waters for Chinese white dolphins - and they appeared in a flash of pink


On Monday, Airport Authority consultant Dr Thomas Jefferson announced: “We haven’t seen any evidence of a decline in dolphin use in the speed control zone.”

But Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Taison Chang told Young Post yesterday that the high-speed ferries do affect the dolphins’ habitats. This is because the new route is very close to the marine park. “The park had a high concentration of white dolphins, but the ferries’ noise adversely affected their habitats,” he said. “There are too many ferries in the speed control zone, too, and they’ll expel the dolphins.”

Council members at Monday’s presentation were also not convinced. Council chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai urged the authority to return with more solid proof in the next meeting.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Eco groups doubt airport's dolphin report

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