The Hong Kong Island Paddle Club (HKIPC) and Hong Kong Shark Foundation (HKSF) announced today that the 11th Deep Water Bay Dragon Boat Races on May 9, 2010 would promote marine conservation by publicizing the risks of unsustainable shark harvesting.

Hong Kong, as one of the leading capitals of Chinese cuisine in the world, also handles 50 to 80% of the world trade in shark fins used for shark’s fin soup and other delicacies. According to the conservation group Oceana, Hong Kong imports 10 million kilograms of fins annually, accounting for the deaths of 73 million sharks from the waters off 87 countries. No sharks are immune, including the rare and gentle whale shark, as shown in this Youtube video of a whale shark being mutilated in the Philippines: www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2P90_bJ3wc.

Said Julie Devine, chairman of HKIPC: “We are delighted to have HKSF as a sponsor for our regatta. We believe that by working together, we can get the recreational water sports community in Hong Kong behind sustainable fishing of sharks and other marine life. To enjoy our seas, we must first protect them.”

Claire Garner, director of HKSF, said that publicity generated by the Deep Water Bay Dragon Boat Regatta would help to build awareness for marine conservation more broadly. She said: “Sharks are apex predators and a crucial part of the marine food chain. However, excessive demand for shark products has contributed to the rapid decline of many species, with several already nearing extinction. “

“Removing sharks from our oceans will threaten the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. Out of an estimated 100 million sharks that are caught worldwide each year, up to 73 million are caught to serve the shark fin industry, and at lest 50% of those fins are traded through Hong Kong. That is why it is so crucial that we get the word out in Hong Kong, which will also spread awareness in mainland China of the importance of protecting this beautiful predator.”

About the Deep Water Bay Dragon Boat Races

Now in its 11th year, the Deep Water Bay Dragon Boat Races is one of the largest, most popular and fun-filled events on the international dragon boat calendar in Hong Kong. Organized by the Hong Kong Island Paddle Club and promoted as a “dragon boat race for paddlers organized by paddlers”, this annual event is held in the calm (normally) and deep waters of Deep Water Bay. Around 75 teams with over 1,300 people will compete in this event, including many of the best local dragon boat teams in Hong Kong. There are five highly competitive categories during the race, including Open, Mixed, Women, Post-Secondary and Junior.

About the Hong Kong Island Paddle Club (www.hkipc.com)

The Hong Kong Island Paddle Club was founded in October 1993, initially based at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at Middle Island prior to moving to its premises at the Victoria Recreation Club (VRC) in Deep Water Bay. Its first race season was in 1994, and the club has gone on to claim many victories in races both in Hong Kong and abroad, including the Hong Kong Internationals Dragon Boat Race and Club Crew World Championships. In 1994, HKIPC also inaugurated an outrigger section for enthusiasts of outrigger canoe paddling, with the purchase of two Malia six-person outrigger canoes. With the end of the dragon boat season at mid-year, many paddlers continue to an outrigger season lasting through December. HKIPC currently numbers 80 members.

About HK Shark Foundation (www.hksharkfoundation.org)

The HK Shark Foundation (HKSF) is part of MyOcean, a registered Hong Kong charity dedicated to marine conservation. HKSF exists to raise awareness about the unsustainable pressures on shark populations around the world, in particular the pressure brought about by the practice of shark finning.  HKSF’s mission is to raise awareness about shark conservation, with particular emphasis on the unsustainable practice of shark finning, and to enlist support in helping to reduce the consumption of shark products in Hong Kong.