6 April 2009

Live Reef Fish Trade

It was simply glorious to finally go to sleep without worrying about storage. We can now start working. Working in Hong Kong meant starting our day looking for the nearest busiest “Yam Cha” or dimsum breakfast. It is after all, all about FOOD. With millions of mouths to feed day in and day out, it is no wonder that the ocean is under extreme pressure.

We are no different. We love seafood. We love to eat. No ifs and buts about it. The word of choice now is sustainability. How can we eat knowing we may not have all these tomorrow? But we are not here to pass judgement or to fret about what will become of us. We only have a full day in Hong Kong and our mission is to visit the shark’s fin wholesale market and the live reef fish trade.

Seahorses and sea moths or pegasus

Seahorses and sea moths or pegasus

Our hotel room was conveniently located not far from Sheung Wan. We were agog with what this place had. Dried seafood products of all imaginable types. What flabbergasted me were two shops that had little dried Pegasus or sea moths. These weird creatures are so difficult to find underwater – how did they manage to hunt so many of them?!

Shark's fins drying on the road

Shark’s fins drying on the road

Shark's fin shops

Shark’s fin shops

It was a Sunday (Palm Sunday at that!) when we walked to Sheung Wan, so not all shops were open. Human traffic was not its usual abundance, so it was quite pleasant to leisurely pretend we were dumb tourists taking holiday snap shots. An alley had big strips of road covered with small shark fins for drying. Two Chinese men were busily cutting away parts of the fin joints and cleaning the fin for selling. They didn’t want their photographs taken. The men apologized but said they didn’t want anyone snooping about capturing their business – totally understandable. Everyone has the right to their own business and we really try hard not to pass judgement. It’s a matter of demand that needs to be supplied. And Hong Kong has many Chinese appetites to satisfy.

Chinese junks and dingy in Lei Yue Mun

Chinese junks and dingy in Lei Yue Mun

Later on in the afternoon we made a long pilgrimage to Lei Yue Mun, the seafood Mecca that is a bit off the commercial area. Easily 30 to 40 stalls with live reef fish tanks meanders through this busy bay side area with restaurants conveniently tucked in between live fish stalls.

Groupers and cods

Groupers and cods

There were so many types of groupers and a glaring lack of Napoleon wrasses in comparison to eight years ago, when we were last there, also to photograph the tanks. Our host then was the father of our friend Emma Fung. He eagerly showed us around with Yogi happily snapping away. And when it was finally time to enter a restaurant and eat, we ordered beef.