Nature and Heritage Conservation
139. In the past few years, the land area under statutory protection has increased despite growing urban development. At present, there are a total of 24 country parks and 22 special areas for nature conservation in Hong Kong, covering some 40% of our total land area. The Hong Kong Geopark was included in the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) last month, which is a recognition of our conservation efforts. The acceptance into the GGN makes the Hong Kong Geopark an international attraction for local and overseas visitors. It will establish a model for the co-existence of conservation and development.
Ban on Trawling
140. Legislation banning trawling in Hong Kong waters will commence operation next year. This marks a significant step in the conservation of our marine environment and the promotion of sustainable fisheries. We will put forward a bill in the current legislative session to set up a registration system for local fishing vessels and prohibit non-local fishing vessels from operating in Hong Kong waters to prevent over-exploitation. The bill will also provide for the designation of fisheries protection areas to protect important fish spawning and nursery grounds.
141. Projects under the Conserving Central plan are making good progress. After taking into account public views, we have revised the plan for the redevelopment of West Wing of the Central Government Offices, expanding the public open space to be provided and significantly reducing the scale of the shopping arcade in the new development. Part of the new complex will be used to accommodate the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to enhance Central's image as a core financial district.