Today saw the opening of the CITES Conference of Parties in Bangkok Thailand. What is being billed as the make or break for CITES where a major focus is on Elephant and Rhino as well as Sharks and Rays. After an early morning press conference from the German Delegation in support of the shark fin proposals, the main event was opened by Thailand’s Prime Minister. After lunch the main meeting began and most of the afternoon was spent discussing the use of Secret Ballots. As expected Japan and China along with other sympathetic nations were opposing any changes to the Rules of Procedures of CITES. Unfortunately for the Chinese delegation, what they thought was scrap paper for their notes, was in fact a Press Release from the infamous IWMC who they have obviously had meetings with.
Happy New Year from Hong Kong……
Whilst many were likely nursing hangovers, we were checking out a tip off received from a friend. The tropical climate of Hong Kong is often very humid, yet the cool-dry winter days with clear skies are proving irresistible to the shark fin traders, who are using every square inch of roof tops in Hong Kong to dry their evil wares. Here a rooftop in the Kennedy Town district of Hong Kong has thousands of fins strewn out to dry.
With Hong Kong still handling 50% of the worlds supply of shark fins, the shark fin battle seems like it will continue to intensify as more and more people are choosing NOT to eat shark fin soup. Along with 5 star hotels removing the dish, and airline freight bans the Chinese Central Government announced last year that they would also be removing shark fin from all state functions. 2012 saw many states and nations bringing bans into legislation.
2012 also saw the Singaporean, Dr Giam Choo Hoo who is the ‘Alternate Representative for Asia on the CITES Animals Committee’ publicly exposed as also being the representative for both the Singapore and Hong Kong Shark Fin Traders. Dr Giam has been on the inside for 17 years, ensuring that sharks do not get any protection status from CITES [UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species]. This exposure has dis-credited him, and he can no longer influence important decisions. We are hoping that he will be put out to pasture, where he can do no further damage. In March 2013 is the CITES CoP16 in Bangkok. Here country delegates will meet to vote on any amendments to the CITES Appendices, sharks and rays are being put forward for consideration.
So here’s to keeping the pressure on the shark fin industry, raising awareness with the shark fin consumers and getting conservation protection for the sharks in 2013……
Fantastic weeks diving in Puerto Gallera in the beautiful Philippines. Natures beauty in her finest forms.
Great evening at Green Drinks with guest speaker Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Institute. Charles is stopping off in Hong Kong for 6 days as part of his PLASTIC POLLUTION CONVERSATION Pacific Rim Tour 2012. The tour is also launching his latest book ‘Plastic Ocean’. Back in 1997, Capt. Charles discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Quote of the night……………. ” I’d like an iphone 5…….if it’s made out of the iphone 4!”
Tracey Read of Plastic Free Seas is hosting Captain Moore and has arranged many functions around Hong Kong. Be sure to check them out if you have the chance.
Well another week has gone whistling by, and each day Sinopec have had teams on the beaches in Chi Ma Wan, doing deep cleaning with the vacuum cleaners in the rocky areas. Reports back have been all positive as we edge forward in our ‘War of the Nurdles’. Closer to home we are seeing real positive results in Discovery Bay where it all began and I finally got to take some “After” shots. Volunteers still continue to hit the beach and spend weekends toiling away, nurdle by nurdle! Met a lovely family today who have brought their kids down so that they can “learn”. From what I have seen over these 6 weeks, the kids are fine and ‘get it’, the youths are educated and switched on, but the adults who are the generation most responsible for the ocean trash have been thin on numbers.
I’ve had many people coming up and saying how admirable it is what we are doing, and what a great job! “Well thanks for the praise, but it’s as much your mess as it is mine, so shouldn’t you be heading to the beach and do your bit!”
All images © Gary Stokes 2012