Event Detail


From Reefs to Restaurants: the Hidden Cost of Luxury Seafood

Yvonne Sadovy
Wednesday, 16 Feb 2011
Pacific Place Conference Centre, 5th Floor, Pacific Place One, Admiralty
Local academic Yvonne Sadovy talks on coral reefs with particular reference to the fish that live in this environment and are highly sought after by seafood lovers around the world.

RGS HK Members HK$100 Non Members HK$150. No pre booking necessary

Drinks 6.30 pm Lecture starts 7.30pm

We are delighted to welcome to the Royal Geographical Society HK Prof. Yvonne Sadovy. Prof Sadovy who is currently based at Hong Kong University is a world expert on coral reefs, in particular on the effects on reefs of their exploitation for fresh seafood. Her lecture covers the biological, social and political angles of the reef trade, which make for a fascinating and important story, illustrated by 25 years of stunning photographs taken around reefs worldwide.

Most Hong Kong residents enjoy seafood but few know where the fish they enjoy comes from or how it is caught. In particular, few know how their taste for fish affects coral reefs and the fishing communities that depend on healthy coral reef ecosystems. Prof. Sadovy's talk explores the impacts of Hong Kong on coral reefs and coastal communities often thousands of miles away, the work being done to make those links more sustainable and how seafood consumers can help. She also explores whether mariculture (fish farming) can help solve these problems and the truth about marine protected areas, exposing some of the hidden costs of feeding Hong Kong's evergrowing appetite for luxury seafood.

The fish tanks in Hong Kong's markets and restaurants have fish that come from coral reefs located in most of the world's oceans. Prof. Sadovy has found species that only otherwise occur in the waters of the Seychelles or central Pacific and sometimes massive and charismatic giant fish are threatened with extinction. These include groupers that form massive and spectacular spawning (reproductive) aggregations which are easily decimated by fishing and the spectacular Napoleon fish, the biggest of all reef fishes. Prof. Sadovy has found in tanks species that are virtually unknown to science, that are caught with cyanide or that would normally be feeding a family in the Pacific but are now too costly for Pacific islanders' to eat. In addition, the popularity of lobsters, clams, crabs and sea cucumbers threatens to outstrip the reproductive capacity of these populations.

The wide geographic spread of countries now sourced for these fish by Hong Kongbased traders, the natural vulnerability of most desired species to fishing, the use of cyanide as a 'fishing' method in some areas and the possible benefits and long term disadvantages that the trade is bringing to many communities of the IndoPacific makes for a fascinating study and a complex challenge. This work has also led to the production of a footprint model showing the impact on the major fish species of Hong Kong consumption on IndoPacific reef fisheries, a level which Prof. Sadovy projects to be unsustainable at current levels of consumption.

Prof. Yvonne Sadovy is a marine biologist who has studied and dived throughout the tropics for over 25 years. After receiving a doctorate from the University of Manchester, she worked for many years in Puerto Rico, first at the University and later as director of the national Fishery Research Laboratory. Her work was among the earliest to identify threatened marine species and the loss of their important and spectacular spawning (reproductive) aggregations. She came to the University of Hong Kong, where she is now a Professor, in 1993 and works extensively in Southeast Asia and the Pacific on marine biodiversity and sustainable fisheries. Prof. Sadovy has published over 100 papers, coauthored 5 books and coproduced and appeared in several films. She is on one of the steering committees of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature famous for the "Red List " of threatened species), founded the IUCN groupers/wrassesspecialist group and is the Director of the Society for the Conservation of Reef Fish Aggregations.

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