A concern was raised by a member of the Hong Kong parliament over the toxicity of cremains, this was in response to concerns of those involved in the fishing industry that the amount of human ash being deposited could impact specific fishing grounds and the honourable member wondered whether there was going to be any monitoring of the health impacts.
In Hong Kong you need a permit to scatter at sea. There are three designated areas around the coast of the peninsular, namely east of Tap Mun, east of Tung Lung Chau and south of West Lamma Channel.
Basically the Government have said it is fine to scatter and there will be no health impacts on the fishing grounds as the ashes are to all intent and purposes inert. Although they have set out a few provisos for the scattering of ashes at sea:
- scattering of cremated human ashes shall only take place within the approved areas and only the cremated ashes of the deceased and a handful of natural flower petals can be thrown into the sea.
- No food, ritual offerings or any other object shall be thrown into the sea.
- If other fishing vessels, etc. are present within the approved area, the scattering of cremated ashes should be conducted away from the vessels; and lastly which is rather lovely,
- If dolphins are present within the approved area, the scattering of cremated ashes should be conducted after all dolphins have left.
The part I really do like is that the Authority provides a free ferry service for this very purpose, why? I think principally it reduces demands on land use. When a lot of Chinese cultural norms point towards burial.
How many use this service I hear you ask? Well according to the official press release: In 2011, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) processed about 660 applications for scattering of cremated ashes of the deceased at sea, representing 1.7% of all cremation cases in the year. So quite a small amount in truth.