In the early morning of the 3rd of July (2014) 59 fish were found dead at Ocean Parks aquarium,
including a breeding pair of bamboo sharks, two rays and some other fish .
The park said the event was caused by human error, and that the employees involved would receive disciplinary action and that procedures would be reviewed additional sensors installed. An inquiry found that the deaths were the result of a lack of oxygen in the water which lead to the fish suffocating. Normally procedures for tank maintenance allow staff to switch of the wave generator that oxygenates the water for up to 6 hours without causing harm to the fish. In this instance it was switched off for water treatment projects to be carried out, but staff failed to then properly restart it.
Ocean Park has not made a press release available.
According to WildLife Risk, a group of conservationists in Hong Kong who say they’ve undertaken a three-year investigation into the operation, the endangered fish are being processed at a Zhejiang, China plant called “China Wenzhou Yueqing Marine Organisms Health Protection Foods Co Ltd.” Read full news item and see the video at RYOT
The public is ready, the business sector is behind us – now is the time for a total sale and possession ban on shark fin in Hong Kong.
Sharks help maintain marine habitats such as coral reefs and help maintain ocean health.
Globally, governments, corporations and individuals are responding to this threat to our oceans. Since 2009, many countries have created shark sanctuaries that ban the commercial fishing of sharks and prohibit the sale, trade and possession of shark products. In March of this year, proposals to list five species of sharks were adopted by the Convention on the International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Over the past two years, 60% of Hong Kong’s top hotels have either banned shark fin soup or taken it off their menus, providing it on request only. Companies have committed to end serving shark at their functions, and several leading airlines have said they will no longer transport shark fin. Even the Government of Hong Kong has pledged to ban shark fin from official functions – if the Government recognizes that shark fin has no place at its functions, banning the unsustainable trade from Hong Kong is the next logical step.
Banning shark fin from Hong Kong will be a crucial step towards protecting the health of our oceans – please sign.
A whale shark Rhincodon typus was spotted at Sham Wan on Lamma Island on 27th of June 2012
The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a slow, filter feeding shark that is the largest living fish species in the world. It feeds on small shrimps, fish and plankton. The shark is found in tropical and warm oceans and lives in the open sea. The species poses no danger to humans.
This video clip was made by a member of the public and posted on Youtube. I take no responsibility or credit for the content of this clip. You can see that the shark is struggling in the rocky shallow water just off the beach (ca. 5 to 10 meters by my estimate). Eventually it makes its way back to sea. Reports suggested that it may have been spotted again off Deep Water Bay on the 3rd of July, but could not be confirmed. Whale sharks are found in tropical waters world-wide, so its presence in Hong Kong is not surprising. In fact, on the 6th of June 2008 at about 2pm a trawler caught a 5m whale shark and after identification by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department in at the pier off the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market it was released back at to the waters of Round Island around 4.30pm (see AFCD press release linked here). Tragically it died and ended up in a landfill (WWF HK statement).
Given how much sharks fin is traded and eaten in Hong Kong its more surprising that the shark got away without being caught, mutilated and sold for sharks-fin soup. What is really interesting is that this beach is not just a turtle breeding spot with AFCD protection and a beautiful scenic spot thanks to the regular clean-ups done as part of the turtle protection, but it also has some nice hard coral areas in some places and now a whale shark! I think it should be declared a Marine Park. Who is with me?
Lucky I read the paper this morning! It would appear at first that shark conservation is being taken seriously in China with a new ban on shark’s fin at government banquets. As many people know government banquets – or any banquets for that matter – in China are BIG and frequent occurrences!
So this ban would appear to be great news not only because less sharks fin is going to be consumed in China, but also because it shows that more attention is now being given to shark conservation in China.
Sadly, as the newspaper pointed out, too, the reality is somewhat different. Faced with crippling provincial government debts in some areas and overspending in most,the real reason for the ban is cost savings. It was only a few months ago that Chinese officials were given mew guidelines on how many dishes to order per table at banquets to reign in the excesses. It would appear that shark conservation is not high on the agenda at all. And with rising prosperity in China and a ferocious appetite for luxuries for the nouveau riche, I doubt very much that shark’s fin consumption will drop much.
Still its a small step, and it might lead to more.
To show your support for shark conservation, sign HK SharkFoundation’s Petition and visit their website for more information and to help the cause.