Little did anyone know, Hong Kong has a small population of an estimated 100 Chinese White Dolphins that reside off the coast of Hong Kong where the airport is currently situated. These dolphins who are already classified as near threatened by the International Union of Conservation for Nature, will now face a further decline in numbers.
There is currently a proposal to build a third runway to expand Hong Kong International Airport and cope with the demanding international market. This project will cost an estimated HK$136.2 billion and will become Hong Kong’s most costliest infrastructure development project. The third runway is planned to be built over 650 hectares of land which will be reclaimed from the sea.
Samuel Hung, Chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society has said that “The third runway is going to bring a huge problem to the white dolphins, it will be right at the centre of the dolphin population range in Hong Kong. (The affected area) is usually used as a corridor for them to travel back and forth. It will take the habitat away from the dolphins,”
These dolphins have already begun to face a decline due to the high noise level annoyance caused by the airport as well as water pollution, increased maritime traffic, overfishing, habitat loss and coastal development.
In conjunction with the proposed third runway there is also another option of maintaining two runways and enhance current facilities at an estimated cost of HK$42.5 billion.
Andy Corish, Director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hong Kong told the AFP that “Hong Kong is blessed with the white dolphins despite such a small area of waters. It is very important for us to protect this population, the environmental impact is going to be major. WWF is not anti-development but Hong Kong people need to be aware of the impact.”