Our Planet Series
Oceans: Our Blue Challenge
22 May | The Hive, Sheung Wan
Keeping our heads down in the jargon bubble of GIS mapping, satellite imagery and complex algorithms means we run the concrete risk of sailing adrift from the normal discourse. To break free from these ivory tower constraints and not lose sight of our core mission to provide the public with actionable insights on the state of the environment, Earth.Org launched “Our Planet”, a series of events designed to engage the local community and connect with inspiring change-makers who really do make a difference.
We were honoured to welcome our first guest for the series, Mr. Stan Shea, Marine Director of BLOOM Association here in Hong Kong.
BLOOM Association is a non-profit organisation founded in 2005, that advocates for concrete solutions to preserve the marine environment and species from destruction and to increase social benefits in the fishing sector. BLOOM carries out scientific research projects, independent studies, and evaluations that highlight crucial and unaddressed issues such as the financing mechanisms of the fishing sector.
The event, designed to be an informal fireside chat, started by exploring the origins of Stan’s interest in the marine ecosystem and how he was able to translate his love for diving into a life of results-oriented advocacy.
Reflecting on the importance of Oceans in our lives, Stan highlighted how over 3 billion people rely on fish as a primary source for protein intake. This places undeniable strain on the world’s wild catch. Declining marine populations have become an established trend. Some spine-tingling facts:
Between 1972 and 2012, 50% of marine vertebrates have been wiped out due to overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction
Mackerel populations declined by 70%
31% of shark species are classified as on the brink of extinction
Mangroves declined by 20% between 1980 and 2005
50% of coral reefs worldwide have been destroyed.
Stan discussed BLOOM’s success in curbing shark fin consumption in Hong Kong by collaborating with hotels and restaurants to remove it from the menu. He reflected upon the complicity of seafood consumers in Hong Kong, which has one of the highest seafood consumption rates in the world, in draining the marine biodiversity. Pointing out the lack of efforts to protect our ocean, he said that only 3.4% of the oceans are protected causing a steady decline of 50% in the coral reef. He further discussed the impact of ocean pollution stating that 8 million tons of plastic waste were currently floating in our oceans.
Stan elaborated on the issues like the growing illicit wildlife trade and related criminal activities in Hong Kong. He shared his experiences and tips on how to protect our biodiversity and drive policy changes on ecological issues.
The final segment — a question and answer session– was one of the highlights in the event. Stan answered the questions from the audience members on aquaculture as a sustainable marine farming solution, challenges in protecting marine wealth, the future of marine conservation in Hong Kong and other similar issues.