Visiting the Dried Sea Food Market with HK Shark Foundation’s “Shark Lady"

鮑魚,海參,乾魚器官和魚翅 or Bàoyú, hǎishēn, gān yú qìguān hé yúchì.

“Traditionally, in Chinese culture, abalone, sea cucumber, shark fin and fish naw (Bao Shen Qi To) make up the four lucky ‘must-haves’ for weddings, birthdays, and festival celebrations", says Andrea Richey, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation aka the “Shark Lady” at the start of our conversation as she takes me through the Sai Wan Dry sea food market.

They are expensive items, but those who can afford it don’t actually need an occasion to have these on their table. It is all about ‘conspicuous consumption”. In other words, items sold as a status symbol to give face like having a Ferrari or a Mont Blanc pen.

As we walk through the dry seafood market shops in string along the des voeux road and big parts of Connaught road, we can’t help but notice the diversity of the sea food products proposed. Among this diversity the conspicuous ones are the baby shark fins proudly displayed!

Andrea tells us that over 100 million sharks are killed every year for their fins. The shocker is that 50% of the global shark fin trade comes right under our nose, right here to Hong Kong to neighbourhoods like Sai Wan’s dried sea food market. And even though the HK Shark Foundation continues to crusade and raise awareness, sadly 98% of our HK Chinese seafood restaurants in HK still serve shark fin soup on their menu. Clearly we need to do more. When the buying stops, the killing stops too!!

Photocredit: Alex Hofford

“Shark fin is cartilage it’s like chewing on your nail. It has no taste. Taste of shark fin is just the taste of the broth so if you cook it with chicken or any other fish it would taste the same. A pity that they use shark fins for that!”

I learned during the conversation, that a few years ago, after they had their fin cut the sharks were dumped back into the water. Today people are consuming the whole shark. Fins are what is gold. The in-expensive shark body and liver is used by various industries for skin care beauty products, anti-aging products, treating cancer, skin conditions etc. “All this despite NO proven scientific benefits”, continues Andrea.

Shark might look super scary with its fins et al but in reality, it is not particularly dangerous. Andrea continues on a serious tone, “Selfies cause more deaths in a year than man attacks by sharks.”

The silver lining is that awareness is increasing and people are slowly becoming more “green”. The good news is that each of us can be the agents of change.

Hong Kong Shark Foundation educates and raises awareness about shark conservation. HKSF successfully runs the Shark Ambassador education program in many secondary schools all over HK teaching students leadership skills and responsibility while creating real change and at the same time educating people to say NO to shark fin soup.

How can we help this neighbourhood charity in their mission? “Take Action through 4 words: Pledge, petition, volunteer, and donate.”, says the ‘Shark Lady’ before continuing to explain. “Pledge to not eat/use shark products, Start & support Petitions again shark killings. Volunteer your time and Donate money. HK Shark Foundation is funded primarily through private contributions and needs your support.”

As part of their fund raising campaign, the HK Shark foundation is selling a “2020 Shark Calendar” for only HKD 88. All proceeds go to HK Shark Foundation. Get ready for 2020 and put HKD88 to some meaningful cause. Calendars can be purchased by donating through their website at https://www.hksharkfoundation.org/donations/.

Also, from December 2-9, HK Shark Foundation will be at all LUSH stores in HK selling to sell the LUSH body lotion under LUSH’s “Charity Pot” initiative. HK Shark Foundation is presently looking for volunteers to support this drive. If you are interested to volunteers for this fundraiser, please email info@hksharkfoundation.org.

Finally, do not forget to visit their brand-new website: www.hksharkfoundation.org and SAY NO TO SHARK FIN SOUP!!

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