Consupmtion of Shark’s Fin in Hong Kong Dropping

According to a new survey by the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong, in the past five years, close tp 70% of residents have reduced or stopped eating shark’s fin soup. The 1,000 people surveyed found that 92% of respondants found it acceptable to remove shark fin soup from a wedding banquet menu, versus 80% in 2009.

  • use of shark’s fin at wedding banquets fell from 91% in 2009 to 72% in 2014
  • consumption of shark’s fin during Chinese New Year went from 38% in 2009 to 14% in 2014.
  • many said they are willing to try alternatives
  • less than 1% saw shark fin as irreplaceable at banquets
  • 24% of respondents said they did not eat shark fin at all in 2014 compared with 15% in 2009
  • 44% had not eaten it at a restaurant for a year against 17.5% earlier
  • Environmental concern was cited as the main reason why people shunned shark’s fin

Stanley Shea Kwok-ho program coordinator at Bloom Marine (the organisation funnding the survey) said people are more aware of the environmental impact of eating shark fin, and many hotels, restaurants and catering firms have helped in the fight for conservation by striking it off their menus. And many are offering alternatives to shark fin soup.

Imogen Zethoven, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Global Shark Conservation Campaign, said she is delighted to see local support for protecting sharks growing when “we know about 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries.”

While praising the government for taking a lead in banning shark fin and bluefin tuna from official banquets in 2013, Shea said it should also discourage the consumption of all products involving endangered species.

Related to that, 84% of respondents said the government could do more to protect sharks through education and 69% that sustainable seafood should be promoted.

Hong Kong still handles about 50% of the global trade in shark fins.

(Source: HK Standard, April 17, 2015)

Lionfish in Hong Kong

green blue sea ∙ 蔚藍碧海

This Hong-Kong based blog has not actually featured much about Hong Kong diving recently due to my Philippines trip! Moreover, I was supposed to go on a local dive today in Hong Kong but it was cancelled. Instead, (and partly to console myself) let me continue with my series of posts about Hong Kong marine life that divers can spot. After the adorable Hong Kong Pufferfish, I would like to talk about an unmistakeable and beautiful fish that all divers will recognise: the lionfish.

Zebra turkeyfish at night Hong Kong

Lionfishes are members of Scorpaenidae family (Scorpionfishes). These fishes are among the world’s most venomous fish species. The spines on their fins, with venom glands at their base, can inflict a very painful wound to humans. In Hong Kong, there are two kinds of fish that divers refer to as ‘lionfish’. When you know the difference, they are easy to tell apart.

The Zebra Turkeyfish

Lionfish Zebra Turkeyfish Hong Kong

The most common of the…

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Marine Refuse Study Report Released

Since the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) and extension of the sewerage programmes to cover 93% of the population, marine water quality in Hong Kong has been improving since 2002. Compliance with the Water Quality Objectives for Victoria Harbour improved from 50% in 2001 to 77% in 2014. The water quality of the Harbour will further improve after the full implementation of the HATS Stage 2A later this year. To further reduce marine refuse, the Working Group on Clean Shorelines conducted the Marine Refuse Study.

The report says that more than 95% of marine refuse originates from local sources. And 80% of this locally generated waste comes from land-based sources – especially from shoreline and recreational activities – the result of littering and poor awareness by members of the community.

Of the non-natural waste more than 70% was made upo of plastic and foam plastic items. Non-local refuse (identified via its simplified Chinese character labels) made up less than 5% of the marine refuse collected.

THE EPD is looking at a three-pronged strategy to address the local marine refuse problem:

  • reducing overall waste generation at source
  • reducing the amount of refuse entering the marine environment
  • removing the marine refuse.

The five key measures devised to implement the strategy are:

  • publicity campaigns and education activities
  • support measures
  • facilities to reduce refuse entering the marine environment
  • stepped-up efforts to remove marine refuse
  • engaging the public to report marine littering and refuse problemsThe report also shows that the prevailing wind direction has a marked effect on refuse accumulation, particularly in the Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Southern and Islands Districts. It identifies 27 priority sites prone to refuse accumulation where cleaning frequency will be increased.

The EPD will also launch a monthly Shorelines Cleanup Day with schools and community groups as co-organisers.

(The full report is available at www.epd.gov.hk/epd/clean_shorelines)

Newborn dolphin dies at Ocean Park; 2 more found dead on Hong Kong beaches

 A newborn dolphin, a small marine cousin of the dolphin, died at Ocean Park last night, where it had been born just 73 hours earlier. Its death came on the same day that two other finless porpoises were revealed to have been found dead on the city’s beaches.

The dead calf’s mother was said to have had a difficult labour, and her baby, a female, immediately displayed an abnormal swimming pattern. The theme park said she also found it difficult to stay alongside her mother when she was not suckling.

Necropsy results show the calf’s stomach was empty, and about 25 per cent of her lungs were not fully expanded. The theme park said it was not uncommon for dolphins to die in infancy, citing a previous study of dolphins in Western Australia, which showed 44 per cent of calves do not survive to three years of age.

Meanwhile, Mui Wo resident Leslie Parker said her son and his friend found the body of what was initially thought to be a seal or sea lion on the rocks near Lower Cheung Sha beach on Wednesday.

Officers from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Ocean Park’s Cetacean Stranding Response Team visited the site yesterday evening to conduct an autopsy. They removed the carcass for further examination.

A dolphin, which lacks a dorsal fin, may appear similar to a sea lion, said Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Dolphin Conservation Society. However, the porpoise has a smoother skin, with no hair, and it has a tail, while the sea lion has flippers. The species is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“The six months between December and May have always been the time of the year when most strandings of dolphins are reported,” said Hung, adding that gillnet fishing was usually the cause of dolphin deaths in Hong Kong waters.

Yesterday morning, police received another report of a dead finless porpoise – this time a 158cm-long adult, which was discovered at a beach off Tai Wan Tau Road, Tseung Kwan O.

The Ocean Park response team were again sent to the scene and took a sample to find out the cause of death. A spokeswoman described it as “severely decomposed”, with signs of having been strangled by a fishing net. There were also bruises on its tail.

There were 32 reports of finless porpoise strandings last year.


Reported by the SCMP ON 2nd April, 2015

Pristine Coral Reefs Destroyed by ‘Great Wall of Sand’

China is creating a ‘great wall of sand’ in the South China Sea, according to the Daily Mail.

The latest huge land mass is four square kilometres in size and was created by dumping sand on live coral reefs, damaging local ecosystems.

But this is just one of several artificial islands China has been creating in the region – and the exact purpose of them is unknown.  

 

 

The large expanses of sand and concrete – the latest being Johnson Reef – are being built among the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China is creating the area by using dredging vessels to dig up sediment from the sea, and then dumping it on subermeged coral reefs to make islands.

China has supposedly been carrying out the land reclamation in order to build airstrips and other structures in the region.

  

Five islands in total have been built in this way, and two more are in development. 

Richard Dodge of the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center, said: ‘The activities described would appear to clearly both be greatly exceeding corals and coral reefs’ ability to cope and survive the excess sediments and turbidity.’

He said that as the reefs were being covered by cement and landfill, this constituted ‘outright destruction’ of the buried coral reefs and associated habitats. 

‘Coral reefs are extremely globally and locally valuable both for the biodiversity and ecosystem they create but also for the tremendous services they provide in terms of food supply, cultural heritage, erosion prevention, recreation, tourism, and habitat for myriad other organisms,’ he continued.

‘Coral reefs worldwide are under extreme threat from changing climate and from local sources of land based pollution, over fishing, and coastal construction.

‘The activities described would appear to represent an additional and severe threat to coral reef ecosystem health and sustainability.’

  

Robert Nicholls, a Professor of Coastal Engineering at the University of Southampton, added: ‘It is clearly destroying [coral reefs] at the local scale of the land claim and the environment.

‘In the bigger scheme of things it is harder to be precise as these are small areas in a large area of reef.’

China is creating land by pumping sand on to live coral reefs – some of them submerged – and paving over them with concrete. It has now created over 4 square kilometers of artificial landmass.

The region is known for its beautiful natural islands, but ‘in sharp contrast, these actions are are creating a great wall of sand with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months.

HKU Student Identifies Dinosaur-Era Fish in Sai Kung Rocks

A Hong Kong University (HKU) student is said to have identified a Jurassic fish from Lai Chi Chong after studying some fossil collections at the university’s Stephen Hui Geological Museum.

Edison Tse Tze-kei found the specimen by chance as he was doing a research project in his final year of undergraduate study during the 2013-14 academic year, according to an announcement from HKU.

The fish, which is believed to date back to around 147 million years, represents the first dinosaur-era vertebrate specimen identified in Hong Kong, the university said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.

   

 

Tse, a graduate of the class of 2014, completed the research, description and identification under the supervision of three professors, including Michael Pittman, Research Assistant Professor and Head of the Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory at HKU.

The research results will now be published in PeerJ, an open access, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal of biological and medical sciences, by the end of this month.

The fossil specimen was found at Lai Chi Chong in Sai Kung, which is within the Hong Kong Geopark area, and was kept at a HKU museum.

The Jurassic fish was an osteoglossoid teleost fish, which is also referred to as Paralycoptera.

 

The preserved skeleton represents the first of such fish species from Hong Kong and the most southerly Paralycoptera identified to date, meaning that the activity area of the fish could be larger than scientists had first estimated.

Matthew Sin, a spokesperson for local NGO Green Power, said some visitors to Lai Chi Chong may have taken away rocks as souvenirs.

He reminded people that taking any sedimentary rocks, fossil, mineral or even sand samples from the Geopark is illegal.

Featured image: Magnified image (inset) of a fossil specimen from a Lai Chi Chong geological collection. Research by a HKU student has led to Hong Kong’s first identified dinosaur-era vertebrate. Credit:10.7717/peerj.865