Hong Kong’s oceans: very supreme but threatened

Hong Kong’s oceans: very supreme but threatened

Printed August 16, 2022

8 min read

Stacks of towering constructions. Chaotic aspect road markets. Taxis, trains, and double-decker buses carrying millions of dashing residents. These are the scenes that lengthen to suggestions when most name to mind Hong Kong. But these photography are additionally steady as authentically Hong Kong: A sampan chugging its capacity all over a harbour. The smartly-liked, low beat of a drum as dragon boaters gash their blades thru the water in unison. Waves crashing on a white sand seaside on one amongst the metropolis’s 263 islands.

Hong Kong – Cantonese for “Fragrant Harbour” – turned into but a small fishing settlement when British merchants arrived two centuries within the past, and realised its doable as a port. The harbour, later named after Queen Victoria, had every east and west entrances, and turned into completely positioned on main buying and selling routes. Rapidly, the metropolis turned into a thriving centre of commerce and its inhabitants grew to 1.4 million by the 2nd World Struggle.

As a seafaring inhabitants, we naturally esteem Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea and the empress of heaven. Her affect silent holds solid in Hong Kong, where there are over a hundred temples devoted to her, alongside with the Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay and its namesake MTR predicament. Every 365 days, tens of hundreds wait on raucous celebrations in honour of the Tin Hau Competition. And for impartial reason: the sphere’s oceans provide now not steady protein for billions, but additionally half of the oxygen we breathe.

Reliance on the sea for our livelihoods way a eager awareness of its strength, unpredictability, and inhabitants. Hong Kong’s oceans are remarkably numerous, with extra coral species than the Caribbean and extra reef fish species than Hawaii. Finless porpoises and Chinese language white dolphins, illustrious for their rosy hue, name our waters dwelling and are effectively identified to local fishermen, as they on the whole practice fishing boats within the hopes of snagging a snack for themselves. But their numbers are dwindling suddenly due to pollution, boat internet site traffic, and never-ending building: some imagine there are only some dozen of the enduring pink dolphins left in our waters.

Marine ecosystems are extra complex than we might per chance per chance also impartial ever perceive. However, we attain know that wholesome, balanced oceans are well-known to the survival of now not only ourselves, however the a quantity of creatures that rely upon them – a quantity of which we luxuriate in. Fishermen hold incessantly fashioned the backbone of Hong Kong society. Despite every thing, we luxuriate in the 2d most seafood per capita out of any predicament in Asia – better than three instances the world life like.

Used oyster farmers, whose commercial has existed for centuries, additionally know steady how lovely the ocean’s health is: algal blooms in Deep Bay can assassinate years’ value of labor in a matter of days. The blooms, on the whole identified as red tides, happen naturally but additionally happen when water shuffle with agricultural fertilizer or sewage runs off of rivers and coastlines into the ocean, leading to an overgrowth of algae. Warming waters due to local weather swap are additionally likely to aggravate this phenomenon.

It’s now not steady other folks that rely upon the ocean for their livelihoods who feel a deep connection to the sea. Hong Kong’s coasts and islands hold fostered a titillating neighborhood of sportspeople who employ their leisure time on the water, from wakeboarders, to kitesurfers, and scuba divers. The annual Dragon Boat Competition choices races in each place Hong Kong, with beating drums, satisfying meals, and wholesome competition making for cheerful, titillating events that the whole metropolis appears to be like to be forward to. And who can disregard Hong Kong’s pride and joy, Lee Lai-Shan, the windsurfer who grew up on the modest fishing island of Cheung Chau and ended up worthwhile at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Video games – the metropolis’s first ever Olympic medal.

But one doesn’t must be a fisherperson or an elite athlete to feel how the spirit of the ocean flows thru the metropolis’s veins. It only takes a fast roam on the enduring Massive identify Ferry, watching the skyline’s lights glitter on the flooring of the harbour, or a day commute to explore Peng Chau or Lamma Island, to care for steady how mighty the sea has fashioned the very soul of Hong Kong. Our care for for seafood, our space as a world centre of commerce, our multicultural coexistence, our free spirit: they all reach relief to the ocean.

But as astronomical as it is miles, we’ll’t resolve it without any consideration. There’s now not decrease than 150 million tonnes of plastic on this planet’s oceans, and by 2050, the plastic can also impartial outweigh the fish. A staggering 90% of marine fish shares are either utterly or overexploited, with millions of fishing boats working to provide the quiz. These tendencies can’t proceed, and they’re going to only reverse if we act and swap our behaviour on a day by day basis: we must utilize much less plastic, reuse or recycle the plastic we attain utilize, luxuriate in much less seafood or opt out sustainable alternatives, and give protection to our coastlines. Simply as the sea has nurtured us, we must resolve care of it and help it wholesome. In any other case, we would lose now not steady a precious ecosystem that allows us to outlive, but a share of our very selves.