Is EIA Process a curse or blessing to the environment in Hong Kong?
Spending more than half of my internship on the boat, I have asked many questions on the EIA process.
Development always wins in the “development-conservation” conflicts in most cases. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the airport third runways and other reclamation works are the examples for the dilemma.
To be honest, I felt really upset and tired when I heard conservation has to step aside. Even though the environmental impact assessment system has in place. I thought EIA as a legal blinding process will somehow support environmental protection. They are authorized to the company to be responsible for their actions.
I was looking through some newspaper clipping on the third runway. At that moment, I realized how not trustable this system was. There was a headline surprised me said the dolphins will come back and utilized the N Lantau waters after construction. Secondly, remediation actions are mainly offset in nature. There were 2 proposed marine parks designated to protect the Chinese White Dolphins. However, 1 of them has already been suggested 10 years ago. Also, marine parks did not apply strict regulations as marine reserve did. They asked for lower speed i.e. 10 knots within the area and allowed recreational use i.e. fishing. Different permits are available for issue i.e. anchorage for boats along with a low cost. From that sense, I think the development has taken the habitat without any compensation. As the marine parks are not able to provide extra protection for the dolphins.
Although nothing seems like working well in terms of protecting the marine environment in Hong Kong, I still believe in the EIA system. I think that is our only chance to minimize the impacts associated with development. There is a saying “Opportunities come with danger”. Maybe that is our only hope to get things right. It is nearly impossible to bring conservation-oriented policy up on the table in Hong Kong. So EIA is the only chance that we can make conservation/environmental protection into the legal context.
We need more people to understand the process and act for wildlife in Hong Kong. Being realistic, development is essential but only to a certain extent. There are definitely solutions for us and wildlife living together.
Having said that I am a bit disappointed and worried about the conservation progress in Hong Kong, I also have some unexpected encounters during my internship.
Photo 1. A photo shows my colleagues and I were educating the audience
I met a little boy who is around 9 years old. He got so excited even before we get on board. He was telling me all the knowledge he read in books. He told me he never saw dolphins in Hong Kong waters. I truly amazed by his curiosity. He kept asking me a bunch of questions when I was collecting data. At that moment, I feel like maybe…maybe it is not too late for us to protect the environment. I was impressed by this boy and hope everyone in Hong Kong especially school kids have certain After watching the dolphins, we went to the beach and try our best to clean up the rocky shore.
Photo 2. A photo shows I was sharing some information on ocean garbage issue
Look at these! I am so proud of our team.