REEF FISHES of Hong Kong

It is indeed a pleas1.1re to finally have available an attractive and informative guide to reef fishes from lhe northern sector of the South China Sea. Despite excellent compilations of fishes from Taiwan and Japan. there has never been a colour guide to the fishes of the reefs of the southern coastline of continental China and none specifically for Hong Kong. The hydrology of the area brings together both tropical and temperate components producing a fish fauna which is as diverse as it is interesting and rich. The authors have combined their knowledge and considerable skills to produce a highly readable and enj oyable book that will admirably serve both biologisu and laypersons. The fish fauna of Hong Kong has suffered from overfishing and pollution, resulting in reduced populations and the loss of some species. This was readily apparent to the authors from their review of the early literature and their interviews with fishermen and divers. It was also very evident from my own experience. l first dived in Hong Kong waters in1975. My next visit was in 1998, at the invitation of the authors. The loss of water clarity and the fewe r numbers of reef fishes. particularly any of e11en moderate size. was immediately appa rent and most regrettable. The many impacts on the marine environment from an area with one of the densest human populations on earth inevi tably place strains on nearshore areas. lt is now very important to take steps to lJrevent further deterioration of the marine environment and its marine Life. Detailed knowledge of the Hong Kong marine fauna is essential for its long-te1m protection. The present book is a very important first step in documenting the inshore fish fauna of Hong Kong. Knowing the species Is the foundation for natural history studies necessary for the management of fish stocks. The most important eff1lrt for conservation of reef and shore fishes. and one that will have the most lasting effect, is the implementation of a system of well-enforced marine reserves that allow no fishing or the collection of any form of marine vii life. Studies suggest that a minimum of 30°/o of the coastline should be set aside as total reserves for the maximum benefit, so tt is obvious that more needs to be done in Hong Kong. Such reserves should be selected with care to be well spaced and prov ide for protection of different inshore habitat5. These reserves maintain breeding stocks of fishes, and their eggs and larvae seed the areas that remain open for fishing. Two reserves of the Mediterranean coast of France (Reseive Naturelle de Cerbere– Banyuls and Pare Regional Marine de la Cote Bleu). have improved fishing so well that local fishermen have asked that they be enlarged. \Yhat better testimonial of success than tha t of the fishermen! Make it happen in Hong Kong.

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