Marine East Police officers interviewed by SAI KUNG BUZZ report satisfaction that accidents at sea are down and new interception tactics are trapping illegal fishing trawlers. On the other hand they are concerned about the growing seriousness of jetski nuisance, increased arrests of illegal immigrants and a beach with rip tides where somebody dies every year.
Senior Inspector Joey Leung and Inspector Sunny Wong outlined these developments in the past 12 months:
SMUGGLING: The major seizures by the marine police are sandalwood, followed by electronic goods, smartphones, i-pads, cameras and so on. While there have been many seizures there have been no arrests. Sunny said this was due to police policy not to cause casualties apprehending minor offenders and the smugglers’ faster boats which are unhampered by police regulation. There have been no known cases of dangerous drug smuggling or cross-border transporting of criminals.
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Joey said there is “an increasing trend” all over Hong Kong of refugees arriving from the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. Marine East officers recently arrested a group of six Pakistanis and a Bangladeshi at Ma Tau Wan.
IILEGAL FISHING: Trawling is banned in Hong Kong waters currently, but some fishermen still do it. The police have adopted a new tactic. They steam in front of winged trawlers, laying a net that is 60 feet long. This is designed to ensnare the offending trawler’s gear and propellor. Twenty-three arrests have been made in the past 12 months. All fishing gear has been confiscated and the boats returned.
JETSKI NUISANCE: Joey said “the jetski problem is getting serious”. People with no licence roar around on jetskis at up to 60 knots. Most of them are parked at Hebe Haven where there are five jetski-renting businesses. “They cause a lot of nuisance to other seafarers,” Joey said.
One hundred and twelve summons have been issued in the past year. Fines are about $800. “They just keep doing it.” Joey said she was concerned that sooner or later a jetski will hit a swimmer or diver.
DROWNINGS AT PAK LAP BEACH: Every year someone drowns off Pak Lap beach. The geography causes unusual rips and currents, so the Marine Police have erected warning signs.
ACCIDENTS AT SEA: Last year there were 83 accidents among holidaymakers on the water. This year there have been only 12. Three drownings occurred this year and last. In two cases people partying on junks dived over board and never surfaced. When the bodies were retrieved by FSD divers, pathologists concluded they had succumbed to heart attack or some other condition. Joey said recreational accidents at sea are down very much because of the “Sea Safety Guarding Angels” who operate out of the Tui Min Hoi marine police base. For some years now they have been holding multi-faceted publicity campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of safety at sea. “It’s paying off, “Joey said. Other points made by the Inspectors Joey and Sunny:
The worst incident handled by marine police in the past 12 months was a speedboat crash. A boat with four people on it — three from Sai Kung and Ma On Shan — traveling at high speed hit a buoy, ran out of control and slammed into Cham Tau Chau island. The coxswain, a Sai Kung resident, was so badly hurt he broke nearly every bone in his body. “This was a very rare accident,” Joey said. “Hard to understand.”
Two arrests of suspected drug dealers have been made recently because of marine police intelligence. One occurred at the bus interchange near the main public pier and another at Lakeside Gardens. In each case the suspect had a small quantity of ketamine. Drug cases are down because of the “No Drug Charter” introduced by the police three years ago, Joey said. This amounts to a zero tolerance campaign.
One hundred and fifty boat owners have signed up to the agreement to ban drugs.
Three sandalwood tree poachers were arrested at Che Keng Tuk. The theft of an outboard motor was reported at Hebe Haven. Three boats had their mooring lines cut and were set adrift. In a criminal intimidation case a dockyard workers’ fight over a trivial matter ended with one brandishing a knife. He was arrested.
A peeping tom case was reported on a large yacht off Tai She Wan beach. Someone peeked at a teenage girl changing her clothes and was arrested and charged with outraging public decency.
Last summer an explosion occurred on a diving boat moored at the public pier. The owner was refilling divers’ tanks. He was badly hurt, but turned up recently, Joey said, at a diving safety workshop, fully recovered.
At Tui Min Hoi the marine police have a complement of 300 officers with three big patrol boats and 10 fast patrol craft. The officers fear their large and impressive base will soon be consigned to history. It’s on a big plot of waterfront land that is expected to be sold for housing (see last month’s SAI KUNG BUZZ, predicting the loss, too, of Sai Kung’s boating harbour). Asked where they will be moving to, one of the officers said they think Tai Mong Tsai.