Hong Kong saw its second ever shark fin protest yesterday.
'Sharkettes' from the Hong Kong Shark Foundation were out in force in Central District, handing out their postcards to the public. The pre-stamped postcards pre-addressed to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang, are urging him to put a halt to the serving and consumption of shark fin soup at all official government banquets. A Facebook campaign with the same aim has been set up too, which can be joined here.
The younger generation of Chinese were really supportive and accepted the postcards with grace.
People in their 20's and 30's laughed and smiled.
Many of them wanted to pose with the 'sharkettes' and have their photos taken.
I mean, who can but laugh at the sight of an 8ft shark on two legs coming down the street towards you?
The older generation, that's who.
The old guard are certainly not crumbling any time soon.
With all the post cards handed out, it was time to go up the hill to the FCC to attend the press conference.
But not before stopping in front of 'Super Star Seafood Restaurant' for a photo op. Not sure why, but the manager(?) was very pleased to see us, and even came out to say hello!
Back inside the FCC, the press conference was already in full flow.
The press conference line-up: Claire Garner (2L), Director, Hong Kong Shark Foundation; Audrey Eu (L), Guest of Honour, Legislative Council Member and Civic Party leader; Rachel Pang (R), anti-sharkfin Facebook diva (18,800+ fans!) and member of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation; and Rachel Vickerstaff (2R), Director, Hong Kong Shark Foundation. The ladies were jointly-presenting the shark protection postcard campaign. Both the postcard campaign and the Facebook campaign are aiming for Donald Tsang to make a public statement on the issue in his forthcoming Policy Address to Hong Kong's Legislative Council on 13 October 2010 - watch this space.
During the press conference, the delightful Audrey Eu even made reference to a photo by Paul Hilton in our book 'Man & Shark'. The image shows a juvenile oceanic white tip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) being hauled onto the deck of a Taiwanese longline fishing boat somewhere in the Western Pacific. Audrey's point was that even small sharks are now being targetted, as much of the adult population of sharks is being depleted at such an alarming rate. Unbelievably, even the Environment Bureau and the Agriculture, Food and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Government have not publicly sworn off shark fin. So far, only the Hong Kong Observatory has.
A Hong Kong tradition: the cheesy group shot with banner at the end of a presser. The full text of the petition and its list of co-signors can be seen here.
One happy reader!
After the press conference concluded, Gary Stokes of Oceanic Love thought it would be a good idea to stage a small protest outside the Central Government Offices (CGO).
It was an ad hoc, but symbolic gesture.
One 'sharkette' tried to ask a favour of a security guard to help her pass a postcard to Donald Tsang.
He was having none of it.
So she decided to go through the proper channels instead, by employing a conveniently located HongKong Post box.
The six-month-pregnant Rachel Vickerstaff also did the same.
And Jan Lai of Greensense unfurled his awesome 'Jaws' poster.
Within five minutes of us being there, the state security apparatus had cranked into gear. Out came that video camera again. It was time for the 'sharkettes' to find their pelagic way home.
For more photos of the days sharktastic activities, go here.
As well as plenty of media coverage in the local Chinese newspapers (which was the main target), the press event gained English language media coverage in the form of radio interviews by the BBC and by RTHK, and photo coverage by Reuters:
FULL TEXT HERE
按：各位可以到 http://facebook.com/CePaSharkFin 按「讚好/Like」以示支持
另：本運動將在本星期日 ( 2010-09-19 ) 舉行記者招待會公佈詳情
致： 行政長官 曾蔭權先生
致： 環境局局長 邱騰華先生
一般相信每年有二千六百萬至七千三百萬條野生鯊魚被殺害，以滿足我們對魚翅湯的口福之慾。多種鯊魚正瀕臨絶種。一九九六年時，全球已經有15種鯊魚 及其近親品種被視為受威脅物種。但在短短十年間，其數字更加急增八倍。鯊魚在海洋生態系統中具有關鍵作用。若鯊魚絶種了，海洋的生態平衡受到破壞，人類的 存亡也會受到影響。
花旗集團 (Citigroup) 本年七月曾經在香港和星加坡以魚翅作招徠，推廣該銀行的信用咭，結果引來公眾的反感和抗議。該次事件曾被本港報章報導，甚至美國紐約時報和英國金融時報也 曾報導此事。集團最後從善如流，匆匆的把有關的推廣活動取消。其實，類似的事件，近年時有所聞。
Mr. Donald Tsang please say no to shark fin soup
in your policy address
To: Mr. Donald Tsang , Chief Executive
To: Mr. Edward Yau , Secretary for the Environment
Every October, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong delivers his Policy Address. We, the undersigned green groups, scholars, and concerned citizens, request the insertion of a pledge in his 2010 Policy Address, that
until there is convincing evidence proving the impact of shark fisheries to be compatible with the principles of sustainable development, the HKSAR government will halt the consumption of shark fin soup at all official banquets.
This request follows previous letters from some of the co-signing organizations to the HK SAR Government advocating a similar policy change, for which the answer we could get so far has been that “the matter is being looked into”. We urge Mr. Tsang to take concrete action, through this simple pledge in his Policy Address.
Environmental impact of shark fin soup
Between 26 and 73 million sharks a year are being killed to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup. Many shark species are now on the brink of extinction. In 1996, 15 shark and related species were considered threatened. Within ten years this number has increased eightfold. Sharks sit at the top of the marine ecosystem and are therefore critical for oceanic health, upon which our own sustainability depends.
Global and local awareness
Many corporations and institutions in Hong Kong have already pledged not to eat shark fin soup. These include the University of Hong Kong, HSBC, the Hong Kong and China Gas Company, Hang Seng Bank, Swire Properties, and Canon Hong Kong. 180 primary and secondary schools have made a similar pledge.
Internationally, since 2007 the Malaysian Government has banned shark fin soup at their official functions. The Hawaii State Government has imposed a blanket ban on the possession, trade and distribution of all shark fin products in the state.
One government department, the Hong Kong Observatory has taken an admirable lead in removing shark fin soup from its menus.
Shark fin soup: a mine field for a corporate’s public image
Recent campaigns have showed the depth of public feeling on this important conservation and sustainability issue.
In July this year, Citigroup ran a credit card promotion in Hong Kong and Singapore featuring shark fin soup. This triggered a public outcry, with the story making its way into local newspapers and even The New York Times and the Financial Times overseas. The bank eventually responded to public pressure and swiftly scrapped the promotion. This is just one example of public opinion demanding that organizations uphold their public commitments to sustainability, with coherent policies around the consumption of shark-fin soup.
The lesson to learn from these incidents is that shark fin soup can easily turn into a public-relations disaster. It is much better to be proactive than to be forced to take action in the face of public pressure and justifiable frustration.
Shark fin soup is a luxury not a necessity
Hong Kong Government currently runs an “Endangered Species Resource Centre”. Every year it organizes almost a hundred exhibitions and seminars, and receives more than 6,000 visitors. All this is done to educate the public about the protection of endangered species. But no exhibition or seminar could be as effective as the Government setting an example.
Shark fin soup is a luxury not a necessity, yet its detrimental environmental impact seems very plausible, if not proven. We urge our government to give the benefit of the doubt to our environment, and to halt spending taxpayers’ money on shark fin soup, until someone can prove that it has no undesirable environmental impact. Isn’t this a sound public policy?
WWF - Hong Kong 世界自然基金會香港分會
環保觸覺 (Green Sense)
Hong Kong Shark Foundation
護鯊行動（香港）(Shark Savers Hong Kong)
Yvonne Sadovy, PhD, Professor, University of Hong Kong
Prof. King Ming Chan, Director, Environmental Science Program, CUHK
陳詠娟博士 Wing-Kuen Chan, PhD
Alex Hofford (Author, Photographer, “Man & Shark”)
Paul Hilton (Author, Photographer, “Man & Shark”)
張堅庭 Alfred Cheung （導演、編劇、監製、演員、電台／電視節目主持人)
林一峰 Chet Lam（創作歌手）
余若薇 Audrey Eu
葉劉淑儀 Regina Ip ( 立法會議員，匯賢智庫主席 )
陳淑莊 Tanya Chan (大律師、立法會議員）
莫乃光 Charles Mok
范國威 Gary Fan (綠色社區主席 Chairperson, Green Community)
彭凱恩 Rachel Hoi-Yan Pang (「向魚翅說不」運動發起人)
蔡海偉 Hoi-Wai Chua
Kirk Keong Lee ("Save Our Shark From A Bowl Of Soup")
李銳華 Clement Yui-Wah Lee, PhD (「魚翅婚宴。人情七折」運動發起人)
彭凱恩 Rachel Hoi-Yan Pang -- Email: pangrachel AT gmail DOT com
Claire Garner – Email: claire AT hksharkfoundation DOT org
李銳華 Clement Yui-Wah Lee -- Email: leeyuiwah AT yahoo DOT com
-- 完 --
ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG SHARK FIN PHOTOGRAPHER