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Two water sports centres in Southern District reopen

The Stanley Main Beach and St. Stephen's Beach Water Sports Centres would be reopened on Friday (August 10), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced today (August 8).

Considering the safety of participants in water sports activities, the two water sports centres have been closed since July 7 following continuous sightings of sharks in Hoi Ha by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) on July 6. On July 11, a Leisure and Cultural Services Department contractor for the shark prevention nets found a small dead shark entangled outside the shark prevention net of Stanley Main Beach.

Having checked with the AFCD, the department learnt that only juvenile sharks were found at Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park and there was no confirmed report of sharks in other areas in the past month. The discovery of the small dead shark at Stanley Main Beach on July 11 was considered as an isolated case and there had been no shark sighting in the southern waters off Hong Kong Island since then.

After consulting the shark experts from the AFCD, the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong and the Ocean Park Corporation and also assessing the situation, the department has decided to reopen the two water sports centres on August 10 but all sea trips from the two water sports centres to open waters will remain suspended. Yellow flags will be hoisted at the centres, denoting that the water sports activities are to be confined to in-shore waters.

A spokesman for the department said that power rescue boats would continue patrolling the designated water areas off the water sports centres and activities would be carried out only under normal conditions. When boats for activities capsize, patrolling staff would pull participants out of the water as quickly as possible.

All activities will be suspended when the department receives a report of sharks being sighted. Participants in activities will then be returned to the shore by power rescue boats. The Government Flying Service and Marine Police will be asked to conduct searches to ascertain the report and the water sports centres will be closed when necessary.

Meanwhile, the two water sports centres in Sai Kung District - Tai Mei Tuk and Wong Shek Water Sports Centres - will remain closed after shark sightings in the past week.

On Friday, the shark flags at Stanley Main Beach and St. Stephen's Beach Water Sports Centres and 10 beaches in the Southern District will be lowered.

Staff at the water sports centres and all gazetted beaches will continue close monitoring of the waters, the spokesman said.

Ends/Wednesday, August 8, 2007

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