To follow up with the Sister Site Agreement between Incheon Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea (Ro Korea) and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China, signed in 2019, On 14 December 2020, an International East Asian-Australasian Flyway Black-faced Spoonbill (BFS) Conservation Forum: Cooperation between Incheon-Hong Kong on Conserving Migratory Waterbirds and Their Habitats was held virtually (programme: https://www.eaaflyway.net/ic-hk-bfsforum/) . The event was co-hosted by the Environment Bureau of Incheon Metropolitan City Government and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and organized by the EAAFP Secretariat. Over 50 participants including gov’t officials, local NGOs, experts and researchers also joined the meeting.
With the purpose to enhance the cooperation of conservation for Black-faced Spoonbill between the breeding sites in Incheon and the wintering ground in Mai Po and Deep Bay in Hong Kong as well as wide scope in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, this forum aimed to:
1) to share related 2020 projects/activities by Incheon and Hong Kong:
2) to report on the results of Black-faced Spoonbill monitoring and habitats usage research in both Korea and EAAF:
3) to launch the Incheon Black-faced Spoonbill Conservation Guild, and
4) to further discuss potential 2021 cooperative activities.
In Opening Remarks, Mr. Yu, Hun Su, Director General of the Environment Bureau of Incheon Metropolitan City Government, said Incheon Metropolitan City Government is pleased to discuss future plans with Hong Kong in the forum and will dedicate to conservation of Black-faced Spoonbill by having collaborative projects and enhancing CEPA activities. Mr. CHAN Kin Fung, Simon, Assistant Director of AFCD, emphasized that this form of collaborative actions are essential to conserve migratory waterbirds in both Hong Kong and Incheon as the first initiative undertaken under Sister Site Agreement and was glad to further promote collaboration and action plans with Incheon City Government. Mr. Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of EAAFP Secretariat, said the management of key sites across its flyway is critical to the conservation of BFS and look forward to additional cooperation to secure BFS habitats and its population in Hong Kong and Incheon, broadly in the Flyway.
After the opening remarks, Mr. Yun, Dong-koo from Incheon City presented activities in 2020 on Incheon Black-faced Spoonbill (BFS) and waterbirds Conservation, highlighting management of breeding sites in Namdong Reservoir and Suha-ahm (Yeonjong-do) and implementation of new breeding sites alongside Incheon Coast. Mr. Yun reported the newly built visitor centre in Namdong Reservoir, as well as monitoring surveys and capacity building, have been conducted in collaboration with local environmental NGOs. He also introduced the 2021 Action Plans for the conservation of BFS and wetlands in Incheon.
Miss SO Wai-yan, Ivy, Wetland & Fauna conservation officer of AFCD, presented about activities related to BFS and Waterbirds Conservation in Hong Kong in 2020. She introduced current status of Black-faced Spoonbill in Hong Kong, with effort of monitoring and ecological studies such as diet study. In addition, she presented the habitat management work of Mai Po Nature Reserve (MPNR).
After Miss SO’s presentation, Mr. YU Yat Tung, EAAFP BFS Working Group (WG) Coordinator and Research Manager of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, delivered a report on 2020 Black-faced Spoonbill International Winter Census. The survey of 2020 census was conducted in a total of 128 sites and found out that 9% of its population has increased in 2020, leading to an average of 9.6% annual increase. But he pointed our that although the number of Black-faced Spoonbill has been constantly increasing in Taiwan and mainland China, the population in Deep Bay Area is gradually decreasing.
In the following session, Dr. Kwon, In-Ki, Senior Researcher of Research Center for Endangered Species of National Institute of Ecology of Korea (NIE) and Dr. Lee, Kisup, Chief Executive of Waterbird Network Korea and Chair of EAAFP Black-faced Spoonbill Working Group presented results of 2020 monitoring of Black-faced Spoonbill in Ro Korea and survey on its habitat use. For the monitoring in 2020, it was a new finding that the population was the highest in Yeonggwang tidal flat, Ganghwa county (Incheon), followed by Yeongjong-do (Incheon), Songdo (Incheon), Siheung and Hwaseong Wetlands. Incheon-Gyeonggi area is still important during BFS post- breeding season. Dr. Lee and Dr. Kwon’s team deployed satellite tracking devices on 25 Black-faced Spoonbill juveniles this year, the preliminary results reflected important information about home range and habitat use of Black-faced Spoonbill.
After the Q & A session, a virtual signing ceremony of the MOU was showed to establish the Incheon Black-faced Spoonbill Conservation Guild by NIE, Incheon City, EAAFP Secretariat and other NGOs. The guild is a networking body among the organizations who conserve Incheon BFS.
The last session was “Discussion on 2021 activities for Black-faced Spoonbill conservation in EAAF” to raise and elaborate potential collaboration and comments from audience. Dr. CHOI Chi-yeung, Jimmy sugggested individual marking on BFS to be implemented in mainland China which would generate interesting data for BFS. He also encouraged awareness programmes with local schools. Dr. WEN Xianji from WWF-HK expressed the willingness of experience sharing on site management and awareness raising activities. The forum ended with closing remarks by Mr. Doug Watkins and Mr. Yun, Dong-koo.
In November 2019, Government of Incheon Metropolitan City and Hong Kong SAR signed the Memorandum of Understanding linking Songdo Tidal Flat [EAAF145] and Mai Po-Inner Deep Bay [EAAF003] under the EAAFP Sister Site Programme to enhance the knowledge and information on the habitat management and migratory species. https://www.eaaflyway.net/migratory-waterbirds-link-incheon-and-hong-kong-to-become-flyway-sister-sites/