Public Lecture: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation of Hong Kong: Past, Present and Future

Date: October 5, 2013
Time: 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Venue: Rayson Huang Theatre, Main Campus, HKU
Medium: English
Admission: Free
Speakers: Professor Brian Morton, Professor Emeritus of Marine Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong

  • Public Lecture: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation of Hong Kong: Past, Present and Future

About the Speaker
Professor Brian Morton is a world-renowned professor specialising in marine biology, marine ecology and malacology. He spent almost 34 years working in The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and carried out pioneering investigations that revealed the life histories and ecologies of Hong Kong’s local marine fauna and flora. During his tenure at HKU, Professor Morton supervised 39 PhD, 23 MPhil and 14 MSc students in the field of marine ecology and biodiversity conservation. Many of his students are now senior scientists in both Hong Kong and overseas, working in environmental management and contributing their professional knowledge and skills towards marine conservation and environmental sustainability. He also held numerous advisory posts in Hong Kong to assist the Hong Kong Government with issues related to marine conservation and he was instrumental in first proposing and then helping to establish marine conservation in Hong Kong. This included the creation of various Sites of Special Scientific Interest, our Marine Parks and the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve in Hong Kong. He has published extensively on the marine biology and ecology of Hong Kong, China, the Azores and the Gulf of Mexico. His most famous local book “The Sea Shore Ecology of Hong Kong” is a must-read for people who would like to learn more about our local marine organisms and their ecology in different coastal habitats. The conceptual model for setting up marine protected areas in Hong Kong as an effective conservation tool, was first suggested by Professor Morton in his first book “The Future of the Hong Kong Sea Shore” in 1979.

For his many achievements, Professor Morton was made a Life Fellow of the Pacific Science Association (1993) and elected to the Global 500 by UNEP in recognition of his contributions to Pacific marine science and conservation, respectively. In 1997, he was invested as a Knight (Ridder) in the Order of the Golden Ark, The Netherlands, and in 1999 he was invested O.B.E., the United Kingdom, for contributions to marine conservation and marine science, respectively, and, most recently, was the 2004 recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Gold Medal.

About the talk
While Hong Kong is surrounded by marine waters with a long coastline, the territorial sea area is relatively small (ca. 1,650 km2) and there are numerous conflicts with regard to the use of such a small marine environment ranging from ship navigation, ports, marinas and piers, to fisheries, sea bathing and diving, marine protected areas and, notably, the habitat of the Chinese white dolphin. Given the ever-increasing local human population and demands for land supply to build infrastructures (e.g. sites for bridge and causeways, the 3rd runway for the airport) and residential accommodation, reclamation has been proposed as a possible option to achieve this. There is also an on-going debate about whether the Government should turn the shore at Lung Mei into an artificial beach as a way to promote tourism and the local economy. Controversially too, the area around the marine park of Hoi Ha is being developed. In this talk, Professor Morton will talk to us about the history and character of our marine environment, the local rich marine biodiversity and the ecology and conservation of our marine environment, and then address the following questions:

  • Should the Marine Parks and Reserve network be expanded? If so, where?
  • How much more reclamation can there be in Hong Kong? If more is needed, what for and where?
  • Can a swimming beach be built at Lung Mei? If so, why? And will it thrive?
  • What is most needed to help scientists (Government and University), consultants and environmentalists plan a biodiversity strategy for Hong Kong?

Professor Morton’s talk will be followed by a panel and open discussion. Representatives from the Hong Kong Government, green groups and academia will be invited to serve as panel members. This public lecture and its panel discussion will be highly relevant to the Liberal Studies curriculum of local high schools and useful to graduate and postgraduate students who are studying environmental science and management. All are welcome!


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