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Ghost nets haunt Hong Kong waters, killing marine life and endangering divers

  • 2021-12-09

It took Harry Chan Tin-ming and a group of ten divers two hours under the sea in Tai Po to find and haul out 800 kilograms of abandoned fishing nets.  “90% of the time I go diving, I see ghost nets and it’s a big problem for marine life including fish, crabs, sea turtles and other marine life,” said Chan.  The large number of abandoned fishing nets, also known as “ghost nets”, is alarming and has become a major issue for marine life, its habitat and even commercial fishermen.  Chan, 68, known in Hong Kong as the “ghost net hunter”, has been diving for over 30 years and started regularly hunting for these nets more than eight years ago. “The ocean is a mystery,” he said.  Ghost nets are dangerous because marine life becomes entangled, affecting the health of the ocean and even divers who try removing them. They haunt the oceans and are a major contributor to the wider ocean plastic crisis. Made from a range of synthetic fibers, including nylon, polystyrene and other plastic compounds, ghost nets can travel vast distances.  "From the biggest fishing nets to the tiniest pellets, plastic pollution is impacting the ocean," said Dana Winograd, Director of Operations for Plastic Free Seas, a charity focused on solution-oriented awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean. It is also involved in regular beach cleanups around Hong Kong. In October, Winograd and a group of volunteers found ghost nets washed up on beaches in two of their last three beach cleanups at Butterfly Beach in Tuen Mun and Cheung Sha Lan on Lantau Island.  "It's not easy to recycle the nets if they have been in the ocean for a long time. Most companies claiming to use recycled fishing nets in their products are only using a …

Business

Greater transparency needed as Hong Kong aims to transform into a green finance hub

    “Greenwashing” is a new buzzword featured at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. It’s part of the slogan of teeanger climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Greenwashing refers to a false impression or providing misleading information about how environmentally friendly a business of a product might be. Hong Kong has been trying to reposition itself as an international green financial hub since 2018. But the process finally stepped out this year as the government and industries seek to address disclosure issues in the green and sustainable investment market as a way to stamp out “greenwashing”. Stephen Phillips, director-general of investment promotion in InvestHK, a department of the government responsible for foreign investment in Hong Kong, told The Young Reporter that  the city “has an important role to play as a green finance centre”. “A number of listed companies also, very strongly committed to both raising green capital, but also being compliant around bringing standards,” he said, “ and Hong Kong obviously serves not only Hong Kong and the rest of China, but also a place in which companies raise money from across the whole of Asia.” A report conducted by Standard Chartered Bank in 2020 found that among 1085 respondents from Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirate and the United Kingdom, 59% of them who put money in sustainable investment said they would consider investing 5% to 10% in sustainable investing, and 75% said they would consider increasing their investment to 25% or more due to the pandemic. However, Alvin Li, Group Financial Consultant of TAL Group, said many investors may take a wait-and-see attitude towards green investment mainly because it is still under development. “The green bond market is still relatively new, still in the embryonic stage, and the secondary market is not fully developed. Investors have doubts …

Hong Kong top cyclists eager to join next week’s Nations Cup ahead of the Olympics

  • 2021-05-06

Next week’s track cycling Nations Cup, the city’s biggest international sporting event since the outbreak of COVID-19, will be a good “warm-up match” for the Tokyo Olympics, Hong Kong cycling coach Shen Jinkang said in an online press conference today. In April, the government approved a COVID-19 safety plan from UCI, the worldwide governing body for cycling, for the event, which will be held in the Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O. The plan, which UCI calls a “life bubble,” includes no audience during the competition and no quarantine for the 100 athletes arriving from overseas, who are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. The Hong Kong team will send five cyclists to participate in the competition, including Sarah Lee Wai-sze and Jessica Lee Hoi-yan, who will join the Tokyo Olympics. “We are very eager to join this competition,” Mr Shen said at the conference, adding that this is the best chance for the Hong Kong team to learn about possible competitors before the Olympics, especially for Sarah Lee, who is competing for the first time in 14 months. Sarah Lee, who won Hong Kong’s first Olympic medal in cycling in 2012, will participate in sprint, keirin and team sprint in this competition. She set the goal to become the top three in individual competitions and help the team for the top eight. “In the past, there were crowds of audience in Hong Kong, and I remember their faces and cheers so this time I will know they are there for me,” she said in a recorded video at the press conference. Cyclist Jessica Lee said the “life bubble” is an advantage as it will help the team get familiar with a similar model for the Olympics. The first international athletes will arrive in Hong Kong …

Politics

Hong Kong Trump supporters urge US to be harsh on China as Biden takes office

Since immigrating to the United States from Hong Kong more than 20 years ago, Matthew, a 44-year-old actuary living in Virginia, has voted four times in the presidential election. Twice for Barack Obama and then for Hillary Clinton. In 2020, it was Donald Trump.  Pro-democracy Hongkongers, like Matthew, have seen government crackdowns on the city's autonomy and freedoms during the anti-extradition protests and after the passage of a draconian national security law. Feeling desperate, some projected their hope onto former President Mr. Trump, who they thought gave China a hard time.  But as that hope is extinguished when Joe Biden came to office as the 46th US President on Wednesday, Hong Kong Americans who sided with Mr. Trump wait and see how the country’s relationship with China may develop in a new era.   "I hope the new cabinet would understand the so-called 'cooperation with the CCP' and a 'win-win' will only make the CCP win twice and do no good to the US in the long term,” Matthew said in a text interview on the day of the inauguration. He did not want his surname to be shown for fear of being targeted by authorities.   Though Matthew recognised the Democrats' effort in pushing forward the Human Rights and Democracy Act last year -- a bill that requires the US to assess Hong Kong's autonomy and allows punishing officials violating human rights -- he found the tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump more effective in weakening China and doubted if Democrat Mr. Biden would endorse them.  Mr. Biden’s aide said in August that the president "would re-evaluate the tariffs upon taking office" but had not committed to lifting them, the Washington Post reported, after Mr. Biden blamed the taxes for harming America’s economy.  When asked if he would make China pay for …

Politics

Airport protests fail to take off with enhanced police presence and limited transport

Heavy police presence, stringent checks and limited public transport has made it harder for protesters to stage a sit-in protest at the Hong Kong International Airport. Initiated online by netizens, dubbed as "Airport Traffic Stress Testing", they called for the public to go to the airport to create disrupt traffic and airport operations. Dozens of riot police were stationed at every entrance and exit of the transport hub and demanded people wandering at the airport to leave. Passengers needed to provide valid air tickets and travel documents for checking at the entrance of the departure halls before entering the terminal buildings. Some thought the police's behaviour was inappropriate. A Belgian tourist who only wishes to be known as Hazma, was in the bus on the way to the airport when police conducted bag searches checkpoints at the toll plaza. He added that the police asked for his passport. "It's a little intimidating, I am not used to this situation (riot police patrolling everywhere at the airport)," he said. Students known as Mr. Ha and Ms. Wong, aged 21 and 23 respectively, were spotted at the bus terminus holding up their mobile screens showing slogans that said "Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong" and "5 Demands Not One Less". Both criticised the act of clearing people out as “over the line”. "People are just voicing out their opinions. The police are stamping out Hong Kong citizens' freedom to do so. I highly doubt that they know what they are doing," said Ha. A 59-year-old woman, who gave her surname as Chin, was arrested this afternoon. She claimed she was sitting by at the bus terminus finding her way home when a female police officer suddenly ordered her to leave. "I was just here to dine out," said Chin, having no clue …

Society

A drive through the newly opened Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor

The Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor opens today, costing $36 billion dollars to build. The project began in December 2009 and aims to reduce traffic from the eastern corridor towards the city’s central area, which has previously been a problematic area for traffic during rush hour. This is caused by drivers and passengers going back to the Kowloon side via the Cross Harbour Tunnel and surge of traffic going towards the Sai Ying Pun area from Causeway Bay. Passengers that go by the route from the eastern corridor to the west side often have a 30 to 45 minute wait between 5:00PM to 7:30PM. Roads have now been changed in order to accommodate the brand new tunnel. One of our reporters drove through the tunnel this afternoon, taking about 5 minutes to drive through the entire 4.5km tunnel, with generally smooth traffic. However, the final "test" that should occur would be during the rush hours in the morning and evening. During the drive, there were no clear instructions indicated on switching lanes within the tunnel was not allowed, giving the Wan Chai North (going to the Wan Chai Convention Center) only one lane, but three lands while heading out to the western side of the island. Despite the three lanes leading up to the western side, there was also no clear route that connects the Western Crossing harbour Tunnel since the exit is currently closed. One of the main aims of the tunnel was to divert the traffic from the Cross Harbour Tunnel to the Western Crossing Tunnel and the Eastern Harbour Crossing. However, the unclear instructions and unopened roads made it very difficult to get to the Western Harbour Crossing. Overall, the experience of driving through the tunnel was smooth, despite some minor changes in the directions and some exits of the tunnel remaining closed.

Culture & Leisure

Hip-hop geeks leap forward with local rap battles

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Daisy Lee、Jianne SorianoEdited by: Daisy Lee、Jianne Soriano
  • 2017-10-26

At eleven o'clock on Saturday night, when it's past bedtime for the city, the nightlife hub in Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong just kicked off its day. Standing at the entrance of an underground club, Hector "SCF-SAiNT" Telmo, in a plain black t-shirt with the words "Straight Outta Home Kong" was busily distributing leaflets for his hip-hop show held later night. Unlike others, he's looking for the chance to break the deadlock of hip-hop on the 'cultural desert' by organising regular rap battles in Central hipster clubs. Straight Outta Home Kong is a underground music project co-founded by two non-Chinese rappers, Telmo and Mohit "DJ Mojito" Kailandasani. Telmo has been stuck for a while in developing his career as a rapper. "Nobody opened the doors for us, nobody gave us opportunities. We felt like outcasts, so our mission was 'how do we bridge the gap, how do we connect, how we get to work with them,'" he said. Though the road to success is not as simple as he expected, the 25-year-old didn't stop. Instead, he started searching for way-out for his fellows—to connect Cantonese, English and Tagalog rappers, who were also looking for a place in the hip-hop industry for a long time. "Now that there's a platform, an opportunity and the fact that the younger generation can see this...at least they have something to look up to, especially on the ethnic minority side," he added. Invited by Telmo, Eric "Heartgrey" So, a Hong Kong beatboxer who debuted about 10 years ago, sees hip-hop battles held in bars as a chance 'to show [their] passion and energy to the local people'. "It's already hard to do music in Hong Kong so if there's a platform...why don't you perform and participate?" Describing the times when he was still starting as …

Health & Environment

Two out of 40 prepackaged juices found to contain mycotoxin

  Consumer Council said two of prepackaged juices samples were tested positive for patulin, a mycotoxin a UN committee on Food Additives say could suppress immunoreactions, damage nerves and affect the development of infants. Although patulin is commonly present in decaying fruits, especially apples, "the risk is higher in juices because mould cannot be seen", said council spokesman Michael Hui King-man. The distributors have instantly removed the two cold pressed apple and blended apple juices, in which the amount of patulin have exceeded the Centre for Food Safety's action level. The council also found that the dietary fibre content of all 40 samples, including those with fruit pulps claims, was lower than the detection limit of less than 1.1g/100ml of fruit juice. Vitamin C content in apple juices was also found generally lower than 2mg/100ml, whilst that in orange juices, on the whole, was higher, ranging from 11 to 52mg/100ml. High sugar content in all samples also entailed that they are "not deemed as a low-sugar food" under Hong Kong's current nutrition labelling standards. For the sample with the most sugar, drinking 1 bottle of 360ml of juice would amount to 46g of sugar intake. In other words, it is equivalent to 92% of an adult average daily intake of 50g free sugars limit. The council urged consumers not to substitute fruit juice for fruit because juices contain less vitamin C and fibre but are more expensive. Reported by Holly Chik Edited by Daisy Lee

National day firework draws hundreds of thousands

  • 2017-10-02

As part of the 68th National Day celebrations, 31,888 pyrotechnic shells were fired from five barges in Victoria Harbour in the evening of October 1. The firework, which costs HK$13 million, lasted for 23 minutes. It is the most expensive firework since the city's handover in 1997. Despite the shower, people were seen flocking in until the very beginning of the ceremony at 8pm. Police estimated the number of attendees to 250,000 in Kowloon and 26,000 on the island. Crowd control measures were in place with the closure of numerous roads. The Marine Department issued special notices restricting maritime traffic and urged vessel owners to follow safety guidelines. Dozens of people gathered in Central in memory of the 39 people killed in the collision of two tourist ships bounding for celebration's firework in 2012. The worst maritime disaster in Hong Kong's modern history has prompted the authorities to issue specific guidelines on boats during fireworks. Some families have been demanding justice as the proceedings are ongoing. The flow of people took some time to disperse. Roads were cleared at around 10p.m.   Reported by Raphael Blet Edited by Cecilia Wong

After Three Years, Sea of Yellow Umbrellas re-appeared in Admiralty

  • 2017-09-28
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Erin Chan、Michael Shum、Daisy LeeEdited by: Isabella Lo
  • 2017-09-28

Convener of Citizen Charter 617 James Hon Lin-shan, also an organiser of the event, said more than a thousand people attended the commemorative rally of Umbrella Movement on Thursday - a double of what he expected. At 5.58pm, participants stood for three minutes of silence with their yellow umbrellas raised.  Steam and sound were used to re-enact the scene at the exact time three years ago, when police started intimidating tear gases to force out the protesters. Around 40 parties and civil groups set up booths in the anniversary event. The three Occupy Central founders -  Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming were among the speakers on stage. Tai said that people in Hong Kong should keep the faith in fighting for democracy. "No matter how the situation becomes, we should believe that Hong Kong can enjoy true democracy one day, " he said. The associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong also criticized the government's suppression on discussions over Hong Kong independence. "Tell me why speaking about Hong Kong independence has violated the law? Which law I have actually violated?" Tai added. He also pointed out that the trio are all mentally prepared for the possible imprisonment. 'I believed once we have started the road of civil disobedience, we have to pluck up our courage to walk till the end, including being imprisoned,'' Reverend Chu said. The pro-democracy Umbrella Movement took place in 2014 was aimed to fight for universal suffrage to elect the city's leader and to resist the 831 framework proposed by Beijing. The 831 framework, laid down by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, set limits for 2017 Chief Executive Elections and 2016 Legislative Council in HKSAR, which involves screening of candidates and emphasizes the importance of a patriotic leader. …