[Coral-List] Politics and corals... of a different sort

David Baker dmb98 at cornell.edu
Sat May 24 07:58:07 EDT 2014

That was a baited title.

I'm writing on behalf of some very outgoing students at the University of Hong Kong on an issue that stems from different politics. These students are mostly from mainland China, and are involved in a NGO focusing on cross-border environmental concerns between China and Hong Kong. (LINK to an article about them in the South China Morning Post). In short, development projects on either side of the border rarely take into consideration the impacts on the neighbor. These students seek to understand the EIA process, translate EIA reports into English and make them accessible, and even conduct some monitoring post-development to determine if impacts are in line with predictions. I am serving as an unofficial advisor, and helping them get their message out and providing some information.

To keep this brief, China has recently signed a massive deal to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from Russia... first by sea as a 4,000 km pipeline has yet to be built. LNG port installations have been in the works since 2009 and now ready to commence in the industrial port of Shenzhen. The public interest in this is high, as LNG is seen as a way to combat our worsening air quality by reducing the reliance on coal.

However, these ports are going to be built via sea reclamation. One such facility will be constructed by PetroChina on ~40 hectares of reclaimed land placed just 5km from Hong Kong's most diverse and abundant coral communities at Tung Ping Chau marine park (yes, there are corals in Hong Kong!). This is a popular dive site and one of the very few last strongholds of Acropora here.

I understand that similar projects are ongoing in Australia with close proximity to nearshore reefs. While I am familiar with some of the literature on the effects of sedimentation, I am writing to the coral list for papers or anecdotes/observations of the impacts on reclamation projects of this scale and proximity and the short and long-term impacts on coral reefs and coral communities.

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts.


David M. Baker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The Swire Institute of Marine Science,
School of Biological Sciences &
Department of Earth Science
The University of Hong Kong
Kadoorie Biological Sciences Building 
Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, PRC

dmbaker at hku.hk


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