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1/ Prepared by Mr. W.L. Chan, Senior Research Officer, Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Kowloon


1.1 Supply and Demand Estimates

In considering overall development planning, Nichols (Nichols, E.H., 1974. Fisheries Development Planning in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Fish. Bull., No. 4, pp. 1-10) has given an account of the present supply of and projected future demand for fish and fishery products in Hong Kong. These estimates have been based on the sources of supply including both local production and imports, as well as the trend of per caput consumption for the 1961-73 period, during which time the population increased from 3.13 to 4.16 million at an average annual growth rate of 2.4 percent. Tables 1-3 summarize these estimates for fresh marine fish and crustacea and other products of the marine capture fisheries, and for freshwater fish production through aquaculture in Hong Kong.

If the trend of increasing demand continues at the past rate, and if population growth continues at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent, the additional demand for these three categories of products should be 131 694 tons by 1986, comprising:

(a) 66 285 tons of fresh marine fish;
(b) 17 218 tons of Crustacea and other fresh marine products; and
(c) 48 191 tons of freshwater fish.

It is difficult to assess the per caput utilization of live marine fish because of the lack of representative statistical data. The present direct production from marine fish culture has been estimated at 530 tons. It may be possible to attain a future target production of over 5 000 tons. When this is taken into consideration, the demand for fish and fisheries products could reach 136 694 tons.

1.2 Meeting Projected Additional Demand

Of this projected additional demand, the planned development of Hong Kong fisheries would in all probability bring about a total production increase of 96 472 tons or about 70 percent of the projected additional demand. The remaining 40 222 tons, or about 30 percent of the projected additional demand, would have to depend on imports.

The projected increase in supply of 96 472 tons is estimated to comprise:

(a) 57 300 tons of fresh marine fish, or 60 percent, from the marine capture sector;

(b) 839 tons of Crustacea and other fresh marine products, or 1 percent, from the marine capture sector;

(c) 33 333 tons of live freshwater fish, or 34 percent, from the aquaculture sector; and

(d) 5 000 tons of live marine fish, or 5 percent, from the aquaculture sector.

Thus, it can be seen that the aquaculture sector would play an important role in the attainment of these target increases.

Although the availability of land and other inherent limitations may limit further expansion of inland fish culture, increased production of freshwater fish could be realized through increasing production rates and gradual modernization of culture practices. Mari-culture of fish and possibly Crustacea appears to offer greater development potential, but it is at present difficult to reliably predict its real production potential.

1.3 National Policies

The optimization of local production wherever possible, and minimizing and alleviating the problems arising from an over-dependence on external food supplies, continues to be the major national policy. Concisely, the fundamental policy objectives are to achieve and establish:

(a) the highest possible production;
(b) the most efficient utilization of all available land and coastal areas;
(c) an adequate supply of technically competent personnel in all sectors of the industry;
(d) technologically advanced culture systems; and
(e) an economically viable aquaculture industry.

The primary target of these objectives is to meet the expanding demand for food, and at the same time with an increasingly affluent society, to attain product quality and acceptability. Increasing foreign exchange earning and employment are not major plan objectives.

1.4 Role of Aquaculture Development in Attaining National Policies

Despite constraints of area, water and aquatic pollution, the aquaculture sector can still play a role in the future development of Hong Kong fisheries. The objectives of inland fish culture are primarily to maintain current acreages for as long as possible against alternative usage and at the same time to increase productivity. Since it is a comparatively new sphere of fisheries development, coastal fish culture appears to have greater development potential. Its development at this stage depends on the availability of appropriate legislative measures for its protection and control. Oyster culture, on the other hand, has been on the decline as a result of the ageing of the grounds, and its future potential as a source of food production is indeed doubtful.


2.1 Objectives

The objectives of aquaculture development are essentially those under section 1.3. These are long-term targets with the emphasis on maximizing production while ensuring economic viability.

To facilitate the attainment of these targets, the following lines of action are considered to be of immediate significance:

(a) introduction of aquaculture legislation for the protection and control of aquaculture investments and activities;

(b) encouraging the utilization of suitable areas for aquaculture development, paying due attention to coordination of all sectors in development planning; and

(c) assisting aquaculturists to increase their economic returns, through the provision of advice and assistance.

With these prerequisite actions, it becomes possible to attain the set objectives (section 1.3) through:

(a) the expansion of the total acreage of inland fishponds and coastal waters;
(b) increasing yield by intensive culture practices and reducing natural mortality; and
(c) ensuring acceptable production costs by:

(i) reduction of labour requirements per unit culture area;
(ii) proper selection and maintenance of materials, facilities and equipment;
(iii) introduction of economically acceptable feeds of adequate nutritive value;
(iv) maintaining a balanced supply-and-demand situation with respect to "seedlings"; and
(v) increasing yield per unit area.

It is unnecessary to phase the objectives since the attainment of set objectives to be realized by 1986 necessitates consistent administrative strategy in terms of the organization of available resources and the overall control and management of development programmes. In addition, as circumstances vary, there will be the need to periodically review situations with the object of ascertaining the adequacy of objectives/programmes in covering additional needs and new trends that are expected to arise during various phases of development.

With the exception of a few farms, small-scale, family-operated type of culture accounts for the bulk of aquaculture production. Although this traditional trend has prevailed since the introduction of fish culture, its viability in the future would have to be reassessed, particularly when the development of intensive culture is contemplated. Moreover, with the need for attaining economic production costs and for overcoming inherent aquaculture problems, this trend would probably change as medium- and large-scale financial interests from the private sector go into fish culture as an organized business investment. This latter situation may very likely happen since aquaculture products, particularly marine fishes, are luxury food items that are readily absorbed by the local market.

In considering sectoral priorities, therefore, the present small-scale commercial type of culture operations should continue to receive full assistance from and support of the Government with the object of maintaining the present level of production on one hand, and increasing the level of productivity on the other.

At the same time, medium- and large-scale investments from the private sector or from the cooperative sector, should be forthcoming as appropriate governmental control and protective measures become possible through the approval of the presently proposed aquaculture legislation. Production from such investments, particularly in mariculture, can be expected to be significant. At the same time, the gradual modernization of culture practices could be initiated through such investments. This possible new development should begin to receive equally high priority at this time.

2.2 Production Target

According to Nichols (1974), the targeted production of freshwater and euryhaline fishes by 1986 should be in the region of 33 000 tons from inland and coastal fishponds. This means a conservative estimate of a tenfold increase over the 1974 production of 3 438 tons, to be achieved as noted under section 2.1 through the expansion of the present culture area of 1 677 ha to a future maximum of 2 280 ha. At the same time, this could also be attained through increasing productivity of each of these two culture systems. The current average annual yields are 2.5 tons/ha for inland fishponds and 0.2 tons/ha for coastal fishponds. Through the introduction of new farm management that could be absorbed by the present level of skills of the average operator, these rates may be substantially increased to 8 and 6 tons/ha respectively. This means a potential annual production of 16 000 tons for inland pond culture and 1 700 tons for coastal pond culture. These would give a total of 17 700 tons. The remaining 15 300 tons may be realized by further development of swamp and agriculture lands, but this would depend on an economically viable balance of demand and supply situation.

In the marine fish culture sector, it is possible to anticipate a tenfold increase over the present production of 500 tons, or 5 000 tons by 1986. This will, however, be subject to the implementation of legislative measures to enable, control and protect culture activities and private investments.

2.3 Cultivated Species and Production Systems

2.3.1 Inland fish culture

Mostly located in the northwestern sector of the New Territories, inland fish culture essentially involves the polyculture of commercially important Chinese cyprinids and the grey mullet. In the order of their relative commercial importance, these include:

Mugil cephalus (grey mullet)
Ctenopharyngodon idella (grass carp)
Aristichthys nobilis (bighead carp)
Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (silver carp)
Cyprinus carpio (common carp)
Cirrhina molitorella (mud carp)
Carassius auratus (edible goldfish)

Of these, the grey mullet is the most important species, normally representing between 40 and 50 percent of the total annual yield from inland fishponds.

The culture system essentially conforms with traditional Chinese practices in fertilized earth ponds ranging from less than 0.3 ha to more than 1 ha each. Farm units also vary widely in size from about 1 ha to over 7 ha per unit. Due to limitations in fresh water supplies, culture operations are carried out in "closed" system, and rely heavily on precipitation as the primary source of fresh water The average yield has been estimated to be 2.5 tons/ha. This clearly shows that there is ample room for further improvement in production.

2.3.2 Coastal fish culture

This type of culture is operated in reclaimed mangrove swamps adjacent to Deep Bay in the northwestern sector of Hong Kong. The organisms cultivated include approximately 50 percent by weight of penaeid prawns, and the remaining 50 percent of the following organisms:

Scylla serrata (green crab)
Mylio latus (yellowfin seabream)
Mugil species (mullets)
Lates calcarifer (giant perch)
Lateolabrax japonica (Japanese sea perch)

This form of culture involves primarily the utilization of fish and crustacean larvae in tidal waters that are periodically allowed to flood the ponds through sluice gates. The larvae and sometimes fingerlings of these organisms are left to survive and grow. Due to dynamic daily fluctuations in ecological factors, as well as the presence of organisms typical of both the predator and omnivore food chains, substantial mortalities occur. The average yield of this culture system is, therefore, low at 0.8 tons/ha; and redevelopment of the existing 280 ha of ponds should use improved systems of production.

2.3.3 Marine fish culture

The cultivation of marine fishes is carried out in floating cages, and has only become a lucrative occupation to people of a coastal background since 1969. It is essentially a "fattening" process in which readily available fry, fingerlings and early juveniles of commercially valuable species are raised to a commercial size. The species under cultivation include a wide range of species comprising primarily the Serranidae (groupers), Lutjanidae (snappers) and Sparidae (seabreams). Of these, the more widely utilized species include:

Epinephelus akaara (red grouper)
E. brunneus (mud grouper)
E. awaora (yellow grouper)
Lutjanus argentimaculatus (mangrove snapper)
L. johnii (John's snapper)
L. russelli (Russell's snapper)
Chrysophrys major (red pargo)
Mylio berda (white seabream)
M. latus (yellowfin seabream)
Rhadosarga sarda (goldline seabream)

Low-priced fresh fish from the marine capture fisheries comprise the primary source of feed in this form of culture.

2.3.4 Oyster culture

This is carried out on the intertidal mud flats located in the southern and inner shores of Deep Bay. The traditional bottom culture method is adopted, and cement slabs and sticks, oyster shells, and rocks are used as the main substrates for the settlement and subsequent growth of the spat. The species include Crassostrea gigas and C. rivularis.

2.3.5 Development considerations

The present level of technology used in these culture systems is considered adequate insofar as the economics are concerned. However, when considering increased production per unit area, traditional practices and experiences appear to leave much room for improvement. Development in this direction must, however, take into consideration the current level of skills of producers and the possibilities of, and strategy for, the attainment of the required level of technological competence of this primary sector. At the same time, consideration should also be given to all possible factors that may affect the future economics of production. These subjects are now under active review.

The development of new technology would require a closely integrated research and extension programme on the part of the Government, and effective coordination and cooperation between Government and the industry.

The present "tembak" system of coastal fish culture is considered to be unproductive though inputs may be minimal. The current 280 ha of coastal fish ponds should, therefore, be redeveloped for the monoculture or polyculture of selected commercial euryhaline fishes. The design and construction engineering know-how, as well as a modern approach to culture management in such a redevelopment, are considered to be extremely vital to the expected improvement of this system of culture. These pre-requisites to the future development of the inland pond fish and marine fish culture systems, should also receive immediate attention. It is, therefore, essential that an integrated programme be initiated to examine all possible ways and means of solving these problems. At the same time, it is essential that the feasibility and the cost/benefit ratio of each culture system be thoroughly examined for further development planning.


3.1 Extension Service

The Hong Kong Agriculture and Fisheries Department provides a wide range of extension services, covering all technical, socio-economic and biological aspects. To ensure the attainment of the set objectives, it is considered necessary that technical advice and assistance in the following lines should be given particular importance:

(a) increasing productivity through proper farm management, disease control and the overcoming of pollution problems;

(b) minimizing production costs through effective farm management, the introduction of better growth promoting feeds at a viable cost, and raising the average level of technical competence of the producers; and

(c) expanding the total acreage of farmed areas through legal control and protection measures, and putting aquaculture on a firm status in the overall governmental policy concerned with land and foreshore development.

Although there is a need for the training of farmers, the strategy to be adopted would have to vary under different situations. In conforming with past practices, extension services would continue to be provided through the collective efforts of various sections of the Department. Accordingly, it becomes difficult to estimate expenditure requirements for such provisions.

3.2 Training of Core Personnel

Although the training of core personnel is under review at this time, two categories of requirements can be identified. In the public sector there is the need to establish core extension staff with the necessary training in technical expertise ranging from supervisory to field operation responsibilities. This training will be provided, in normal cases, through the present in-service arrangements. On the other hand, there will also be the need for overseas/international assistance. The present aquaculture extension team provides adequate manpower requirements in coping with current needs. For the future, however, there will be the need to consider a 30-40 percent increase in manpower.

As regards the private sector, manpower requirements for both the present and the future should present no problem. The level of skills of the present operators will have to be raised and appropriately upgraded with the object of attaining a nucleus of farm managers who should be capable of controlling and supervising technical operations. The training of these core personnel could be organized in the public or private sector. Operators may be directly trained by experienced farm managers, by commercial culturists, or by the public sector technicians.

3.3 Organization of Research

The role of research in the overall aquaculture development plan is basically one of fact-finding. At the same time, the research sector will also be responsible for making recommendations arising either from research or investigation of situations which will assist in making administrative decisions in connexion with the implementation of development programmes along the lines set out under section 2.1. Subject to administrative clearance, adjustment, and/or weighting, the adopted recommendations would be implemented through the joint effort of both research and extension personnel. Research also plays, therefore, a role in extension providing the necessary scientific services that may be required.

The Fisheries Research Division of the Department has two experimental stations, one for marine fish culture research and the other for inland fish culture research. Both these stations at present required strengthening in terms of the basic accommodation and experimental facilities.

Future arrangements for long- and short-term research will depend on the technological requirements to fulfil the development objectives. Other sections of the Department will continue to collaborate with the Research Division and this will ensure the fullest use of the resources of professional expertise of the Department. Similarly, within the Research Division other research programmes are integrated with those of the aquaculture section particularly in diseases, pollution, and limnological and hydrographical research programmes.

There is a need to consider the training of research personnel insofar as updating their awareness of the ever continuing advancements made in the field of aquaculture. This generally applies to the scientific and technical cadres of staff. In addition, specific needs are expected to arise from time to time. These could either be arranged through the in-service training programmes of the Department, or through overseas/international programmes.

Recurrent research costs should probably range between U.S.$ 10 000 and U.S.$ 20 000 per year for the next ten years. This level of expenditure has not taken into consideration the possible increases in the cost of research materials, etc. At the same time, it excludes equipment costs for items costing more than U.S.$ 2 000.


4.1 Financing and Credit

As noted in Nichols (1974), capital for development is available within Hong Kong. The increasing trend of private interest in aquaculture can be expected to play a major role in financing further production activities. This depends, however, mainly on the outcome of the present effort of the Department in introducing aquaculture legislation. As regards credit facilities, there has already been in existence for some time a special fund to assist existing operators. The management of this fund is being entrusted to the Department, and will be directly linked with the existing extension services.

4.2 Phasing and Management of Production Programmes

Although there are approximately 600 ha of additional agricultural lands and swamps that can be developed for inland fish culture, their availability for fish culture is uncertain and subject to decision on a case by case basis. On the other hand, the total utilizable surface area of bays and inlets of the inshore environment has been estimated to be 500 ha. These waters are relatively pollution-free and more sheltered from rough weather conditions, but exclude utilizable foreshores adjacent to these selected bays and inlets. As regards oyster culture, there appear to be no acceptable sites for the expansion of the present operation, and it is, therefore, considered to have no further development potential.

The development of these additional areas would mainly depend on the interest of the private sector. It is not yet possible to control or predict the rate of development of inland fish culture because of a number of inherent social factors with respect to land rights and tenure. On the other hand, it would be possible to control the future development of marine fish culture after passing the proposed aquaculture legislation.

In the circumstances, the phasing of production programmes can at present be summarized as follows:

(a) First phase (1975-76) - Approval of aquaculture legislation. Implementation of research and extension development programmes. Coordination with the industry. Review and adjustment of all existing services.

(b) Second phase (1976-86) - Development of additional areas. Increasing productivity of existing operations. Control, regulate, protect and assist all culture activities.

The Department will continue to control, regulate and assist in the development of culture sites, and advise on the establishment of farms and facilities. Through its extension programmes, to be adjusted as and when necessary, it will also continue to provide technical advice to the operators either collectively or individually. The adoption of a cooperative approach to the procurement of inputs is considered desirable, and this subject is now under active review. Disease control and related problems will continue to be emphasized for the purpose of attaining acceptable quality of the products and at the same time indirectly increasing yield.

While harvesting is expected to be carried out individually, it is hoped that marketing of aquaculture products will be reorganized following the system presently adopted for the disposal of fresh marine fish. At the present moment, the system of marketing culture products is considered unsatisfactory in many ways.

4.3 Budget

Government costs for the implementation of production programmes would come from the annual budget of the Department, and there may be the need to increase the budget by 30-40 percent for this purpose. Investments in these programmes would largely be forthcoming from the private sector.

  1. External Assistance Requirements

These should include:

(a) training of extension personnel;

(b) exchange of information and periodic gathering of personnel;

(c) provision of professional consultations with respect to construction engineering (marine, brackish and fresh water); artificial propagation of commercially important Hong Kong marine fishes; fish feeds and related nutritional problems; and problems of fish diseases; and

(d) participation in training programmes financed by international institutions/organizations relating to fields noted under (c) above.


Production, Trade and Consumption of Fresh Marine Fish, Crustacea and other Fresh Marine Products, and Cultured Freshwater Fish


Local landings (tons)

Imports (tons)

Export & re-export (tons)

Total consumption (tons)

Per caput1/ consumption (kg/yr)

Marine capture fisheries

Fresh marine fish


52 045

5 864


57 744



88 004

11 490

4 479

95 015


Crustacea, etc.


8 152

4 916

1 239

11 829



15 022

15 403

6 237

24 188



Freshwater fish



10 781


11 419



3 054

33 412


36 234


1/ Total per caput consumption (actual situations): 25.7 kg/year for 1961, and 37.3 kg/year for 1973. These figures exclude consumption of cultured marine species, of which 500 tons were produced in 1974.


Estimated Per Caput Demand for Fresh Marine Fish, Crustacea and Other Fresh Marine Products, and Freshwater Fish for 1976, 1981 and 1986


Per caput demand (kg)

Fresh marine fish

Crustacea, etc.

Freshwater fish

Grand total


























Estimated Demand and Supply (Tons) of Fresh Marine Fish, Crustacea and Other Fresh Marine Products, and Freshwater Fish


Projected demand

Estimated production

Projected net imports

Scope for2/ development planning

Marine capture fisheries

Fresh marine fish


95 015

88 000

7 011



114 600

93 200

7 000

14 350


135 700

95 700

7 100

32 900


161 300

96 800

7 200

57 300

Crustacea, etc.



15 022

13 748


27 800

18 300

14 500

- 4 928


34 700

18 300

18 400

- 2 600


41 400

18 300

22 300



Freshwater fish



3 054

33 180



42 900

3 600

36 000

3 320


65 700

4 800

40 500

20 400


84 400

6 100

45 000

33 300

Marine fish






5 000


5 000

1/ Data for 1973 actual, not estimated
2/ Increased production required (tons)

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