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Over 300 Students Learn About Sustainable Seafood and Pledge Support for Marine Conservation

2010-07-06

First Ever Study in HK on Sustainable Seafood Education Shows Positive Impact
Findings Unveiled at Ocean Park Academy Annual Award Presentation Ceremony

3 New Courses Created for Soon-to-Open Grand Aquarium

(6 July 2010 – Hong Kong) Over 300 students learned about sustainable seafood* through a fun and engaging quiz as part of this year’s Annual Award Presentation Ceremony hosted by Ocean Park Academy, Hong Kong (OPAHK), the education arm of Ocean Park Hong Kong. It was explained to the students that humphead wrasse and cuttlefish should both be avoided for sustainability considerations, and that the trawling method used to collect shrimps results in 70% of the haul being undesirable bycatch, making shrimp dishes unsustainably produced as well. The students were joined by Mr. Matthias Li, Deputy Chief Executive of Ocean Park, Mr. Raymond Young, JP, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, and Mr. Chet Lam, local singer-songwriter, in a pledge to save the ocean by following sustainable seafood principles—and eat fewer shrimps. Results of a recent study conducted by OPAHK show that students exhibit improved understanding and attitude toward sustainable seafood after taking a course on the subject.

Mr. Matthias Li, Deputy Chief Executive of Ocean Park, said “Ocean Park has put a great deal of effort into presenting conservation messages not only through our exhibits, but also through courses offered by OPAHK. In the 2009/10 school year alone, over 46,000 students took part in OPAHK courses, bringing our attendance figure to well over half a million of students since 1992. It has always been our hope that students would come to appreciate the importance of ecological balance and biodiversity so that they would take concrete actions in their daily lives to help conserve the ocean and aquatic wildlife.”

Hong Kong’s first ever study on sustainable seafood education conducted by OPAHK involved over 100 students, who completed questionnaires on their knowledge and attitude toward sustainable seafood, both before and after attending the Academy’s course. After taking the course, 83% of respondents said they would take sustainability into account when ordering seafood, more than four times the percentage before the course. Close to 70% noted they would reduce consumption of unsustainably produced seafood while almost 60% indicated they would encourage their family and friends to do the same. In terms of specific seafood items, close to 50% of respondents said they would never or seldom eat shrimps after learning about the harmful impact resulting from shrimp trawling practices, in contrast to 32% before.**

Mr. Li added, “The results of this study confirm that Ocean Park has an important role to play in promoting conservation awareness and inspiring action in the everyday lives of our community. We will be introducing five new courses in 2010/11, three of which will be conducted at our soon-to-open flagship Grand Aquarium, where students will have the opportunity to meet over 450 aquatic species and 3,000 fish in what will be one of the largest aquariums in the world. A new course will give students the opportunity to learn fascinating facts about birds and their husbandry directly from our bird trainer; while students in another course will get to go behind the scenes to observe the workings of haunted houses featured in our Halloween Bash presentation.”

Mr. Raymond Young, JP, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, said “The Ocean has an important place in the hearts of Hong Kong people as it figures prominently in our lives. We are encouraged by both OPAHK’s efforts in promoting marine conservation and the enthusiastic response of the local students. We hope that the participating students will pass on the important message about marine conservation to their relatives and friends and appeal for more people’s support for this good cause.”

A total of 26 students were recognized at today’s Award Presentation Ceremony for most credits earned and excellence in post-activity exercises.# The Academy’s Student Sponsorship Scheme, which started in 2007, has enabled over 9,000 students from families with financial difficulties to participate in courses with full or half fee exemption. Applications for the courses and student sponsorship scheme for 2010/11 will be accepted beginning mid-August 2010.