Environmental groups have criticised the government for its weak law enforcement after visitors were spotted on a Lamma Island beach which is meant to be closed to the public in order to protect the nesting site of green sea turtles.

Green Power and Eco-Education & Resources Centre say that they have found trespassers in the Sham Wan Restricted Area multiple times since 2013 with no law enforcement officers in sight, Ming Pao reported.

According to the website of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the beach area in Sham Wan and nearby shallow water has been closed to the public from June to October every year since 1999.

The measure was introduced to conserve one of the last nesting sites of the highly endangered green turtles of southern China, the department said. Trespassers risk a maximum fine of HK$50,000.

However, the department has not charged anyone for entering the restricted area in the past five years, a government spokesperson told Ming Pao. Meanwhile, green turtles have not been seen in Hong Kong since 2012.

Green Power and Eco-Education & Resources Centre said they inspected the Sham Wan beach 36 times in the past three summers as well as vessels docked at the beach. On some occasions, people in the vessels went ashore.

The two conservation groups urged the government to expand the restricted area further into the sea to better protect the site.

Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.