Victoria Harbour, HK - Jonathan Chu
My Watermark is Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong.
The view of Victoria Harbour, 維多利亞港, is just breathtaking… It is located between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It has a view of one of the most beautiful, tallest skylines in the world with a background of the Victoria Peak. Hong Kong even got its name from this iconic harbor; 香港, which translates to ‘fragrance harbor’. Victoria Harbor is a natural harbor that became a major port since The Treaty of Nanking, the treaty that ended the Opium War, also known as the Anglo-Chinese War. From then on, there has been a great increase in private and commercial vessels going through that harbor; later becoming one of the busiest harbours in the world.
I’m a student from Hong Kong and Victoria Harbor is incredibly important to me because it represents Hong Kong and it’s the top tourist attraction. When people think of Hong Kong, the Victoria Harbor instantly pops up in their minds. It is like the ‘face’ of Hong Kong. Whenever my friends from other parts of the world visit Hong Kong, I always bring them to Victoria Harbour. My car drive past the Victoria Harbor every single day, and I always look out of the window and appreciate the view of countless skyscrapers wrapping around the harbour. It is simply mesmerizing! I’ll never get tired of that iconic view.
However, over the past 10-20 years, there has been an increasing number of environmental concerns regarding the pollution in Victoria Harbor mainly due to the rapidly growing economic activities in Hong Kong. This past summer, I was on my yacht cruising through the harbor, I looked over the side and saw crude oil and plastic materials scattered all over the harbour. It is heartbreaking to witness such a scene. The three major causes of pollution are domestic sewage, industrial waste, and land reclamation. Pollution in Victoria Harbour is getting more and more severe as E-coli level, pH level and heavy metals, etc. are not meeting the standard water quality parameters. 60% of marine animals are being affected by the pollution, which has a massive impact on the marine ecosystem. Chinese white dolphin is a near extinction species that exists in Hong Kong waters and is under huge threat. The number of Chinese white dolphins dropped from ~188 in 2003 to ~47 in 2017, a ~75% decrease. To deal with the pollution in Victoria Harbor, Environmental Protection Department (EDP) started the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS). It is a whopping 30billion HKD mega project that consists of two stages. Stage 1 system treats 75% of sewage and stage 2a and b treats the remaining 25% of sewage and the installment of a disinfection facility and biological treatment to improve the quality of harbour water. The outcome of this mega-project is amazing, E. coli level went down by ~50%, Ammonia decreased by 25% and oxygen increased by 10%, which is critical for marine life. There’s still tons of work to do in order to get our ‘healthy’ harbour back. However, this is a huge step forward and the iconic Victoria Harbour will keep its beauty.