Sustainable Future, Hong Kong Tales
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Issue: #009 - 12 August 2013
The Diarist's Note

 

News has come that the popular golden threadfin bream has grown scarce and fish lovers should avoid eating those that are caught in the wild.  Another local favourite, yellow croaker, has already been on the ‘Avoid’ list in the World Wide Fund’s sustainable seafood guide for some time. 

Big Lai and Yiu Gor know these painful facts by heart. They don’t need any seafood guide to tell them what’s going wrong in the oceans.   For us, eating a particular type of fish is a matter of choice; for them, scarcity of fish is a matter of livelihood.  They are two fishermen we feature in this edition of Urban Diary.

Big Lai and Yiu Gor have been fishermen for more than half a century, and their families have been catching fish in Hong Kong for at least the past three generations. The two men have witnessed and are shouldering the fallout land-hungry development brings to the fishing community. 

I learnt from them that the top culprit behind the fast-declining fish stock is reclamation.    

Talking to the two fishermen made me realise I have never looked at our city from a fishermen’s perspective.  For a long time, most Hong Kong people neglected the rights and welfare of the fishing community despite the fact that Hong Kong started life as a fishing village.  The younger generation no longer wants to be fishermen, and the youngest fishermen Big Lai and Yiu Gor have ever met are already in their 40s.  Both believe Hong Kong will not have any more professional fisherman 10 years from now.          

Therefore, in this edition, Urban Diary tries to look at Hong Kong and her shoreline from the sea.  On top of writing their stories, we filmed Big Lai and Yiu Gor in action.  We get on their fishing boats, experience fishing, and assess the ongoing reclamation of the harbour together with them.