On 17 August, SWIMS staff and faculty joined with AFCD Marine Conservation and Parks leadership, wardens, and staff to kick off a series of talks focused on collaboration to promote conservation of the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve. Talks spanning subjects from the respective roles each institution plays to how best to conserve biodiversity and communicate scientific findings to the public were given by Edward Wong (Senior Marine Conservation Officer); Dr. Allen To (Marine Parks Officer) and Ms. Shadow Sin; (Marine Conservation Officer), SWIMS Director, Professor Gray Williams and SWIMS Post Doc Dr Tommy Hui.
The meeting kicked off with introductions from Gray and Mr. Wong who championed the desire for an exchange between SWIMS and AFCD regarding Cape d’Aguilar and the Marine Reserve following the completion of SWIMS’ expansion.
Dr. Allen To, who reminisced about being a PhD student and resident at SWIMS, briefed the meeting about the history of the Marine Parks branch of AFCD and how the Marine Parks Ordinance was established in 1995 and Cape d’Aguilar was Hong Kong’s first Marine Reserve, established in 1996.
Ms. Shadow Sin then spoke about the massively successful, collaborative ecological study under the Ting Kok+ project, supported through the Environment and Conservation Fund, and jointly completed by SWIMS and five other Hong Kong tertiary institutions. Shadow presented some of the results of the study and introduced a new website and GIS database with a public-friendly interface that SWIMS helped AFCD produce.
Finally Gray and Tommy spoke about the history of Cape d’Aguilar and the founding of SWIMS and emphasized opportunities where SWIMS’ and AFCD’s goals align in conserving Hong Kong’s marine biodiversity and providing public education.
The talks were followed by discussions of the future and how SWIMS and AFCD might work together to accomplish goals such as transforming the challenge of increased foot traffic to the marine reserve into opportunities for education and working together to improve research and monitoring of the marine reserve. The visit ended with a short tour of the newly expanded facilities at SWIMS.