Sustainable Shui Hau
by Matt Ming
Shui Hau Wan is a beautiful part of Hong Kong that’s slightly off the beaten track, an ideal setting for the perfect selfie. But its growing popularity is attracting day-trippers not only in search of the perfect selfie, but for recreational activities that’s also threatening Shui Hau’s ecosystem.
Located south of Lantau Island inside Shui Hau village, Shui Hau Wan can be reached by walking towards the eastern part of the bay. There you will be greeted by breathtaking scenery and a teeming coastal habitat that includes mangroves, intertidal sands, mudflats, boulder shores and rocky shores. More than 180 species live in Shui Hau, underscoring the area’s high ecological value.
The intertidal zone is an important breeding site for young horseshoe crabs. Small estuaries along the south bank, which flow through the mangroves, are fish breeding grounds, many of which are of high commercial value. But Shui Hau Wan has been facing threats from unregulated human activity. During the weekends or on public holidays during certain months, the bay draws hundreds of visitors there mainly for clam-digging. Unregulated recreational clam-digging can lead to overharvesting, causing disturbance to young crabs, while the rubbish left behind is spoiling its natural environment.
To educate the public about the ecological importance of Shui Hau’s mudflats and the negative effects of unregulated clam-digging, WWF-Hong Kong has been organising weekend eco-visits since October 2018. The eco-visits teach participants about the habitats in Shui Hau, the local village culture, and promote a code of conduct developed by WWF for clam digging.
Getting to Shui Hau village is convenient. Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station (Exit B). From there, it’s a five-minute walk to the Tung Chung Temporary Bus Station where you catch the 11 or 11A buse before getting off at the Shui Hau East Station (to Tai O). Overall travel time from the MTR station will be around 30 minutes.
So if you’re interested in experiencing the beauty of Shui Hau, be sure to join one of the WWF eco-visits and learn the sustainable way to enjoy Shui Hau!