Among the thousands of visitors who come to Sai Kung for the seafood, one group stands apart.
Most Tuesdays for the past 18 years, Ms Tam and her friends have bought fish and crustaceafrom the waterfront restaurants not to eat, but to set them free.
Why do you free the fish?
Ms T: “Life release” is a Buddhist tradition to save animals that are destined to be killed. It’s the gift of life. Many people believe it provides health benefits; releasing a fish into the sea provides the liberator with a sense of peace and joy because they can sense the creature’s happiness.
How do you practice this in Sai Kung?
Ms T: We have a regular boatman who gets sea creatures from a wholesaler and places them in tanks on board his boat. We then go out to sea to find suitable areas where the creatures can be released. This is important because different fish and crustaceans require different habitats. There is no point giving a creature its freedom if it is going to die because it has been released into a hostile environment.Until last year we worried commercial fishing trawlers would catch creatures we released but now there is a ban on trawling in Hong Kong waters.
What kind of creatures do you release?
Ms T: It depends on the season and what creatures are available, but we release many kinds of fish, crabs, squid, starfish and sea cucumber.
How much does it cost?
Ms T: As a group we pool our resources – we practice life release often and seafood is expensive – we spend about $1000 to $2,000 on each occasion.