Risk assessment of heavy metal contamination in shrimp farming in Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hong Kong

K. C. Cheung*, Ming Hung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


An ecological survey was carried out to determine the sediment concentrations of nutrients and heavy metals and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in fish and shrimp including tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus×O. nilotica), grey mullet (Mugil cephalus), gei wai shrimp (Metapenaeus ensis) and caridean shrimp (Macrobrachium nipponensis) in the traditional tidal shrimp ponds (gei wais) of Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hong Kong. The sediments collected from the landward sites contained higher nutrient contents, as well as zinc (Zn), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni) and cadmium (Cd) than those collected from the seaward sites, but vice versa for lead (Pb) and mercury (Hg). However, the concentrations of all metals were exceptionally high in the two sites located outside the reserve, suggesting that waters from Deep Bay might be the possible source of metal contamination affecting the reserve. All metals studied seemed to accumulate in the viscera of fish. Body size was the determining factor for the accumulation of heavy metals in caridean shrimp and gei wai shrimp but not fish. Concentrations of the metals studied in tissues of grey mullet and gei wai shrimp were found to be safe for human consumption. Concentrations of Cr in tilapia whole body (0.68-1.10 mg kg-1 wet weight) were close to or over the guideline value of 1 mg kg-1 set by the Food Adulteration (Metallic Contamination) Regulations of Hong Kong. Tilapia flesh and small caridean shrimp collected from gei wais were contaminated by Cr and Pb but still fit for human consumption. Caution is required if large caridean shrimp is to be consumed in large amounts continuously because the concentration of Pb exceeded the maximum permitted concentration (6 mg kg-1). The rather high Cr concentrations in tilapia whole body should not be overlooked as the fish will serve as a food source for migratory birds visiting the site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Gei wai
  • Heavy metals
  • Mai Po Nature Reserve
  • Nutrients
  • Risk assessment


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk assessment of heavy metal contamination in shrimp farming in Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hong Kong'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this