Conservation & Education
AQUA ... THE WATER OUR LIVES DEPEND ON
MERIDIAN ... THE LAND WE LIVE ON
PROTECT LIFE - CONSERVE NATURE
PROTECT LIFE - CONSERVE NATURE
Founded by artist, celebrity and avid marine conservationist, Ms. Sharon Kwok in 2013 and Peter Jackson, AquaMeridian Conservation and Education (AquaMeridian) is a registered Hong Kong-based non-profit organization that aims to educate and engage the public – particularly in Hong Kong – about wildlife conservation and sustainability issues through creative and cross-cultural programs.
Hong Kong acts as a hub for a thriving wildlife trade, with numerous endangered wildlife products such as ivory and shark fin being bought and sold openly and legally. With Hong Kong long having been a multicultural bridge between the East and the West, as well as the gateway to China, increasing awareness of environmental issues within the city can have a far-reaching impact on the rest of Asia. We believe that education is the key to a sustainable future for our planet.
In 2018, AquaMeridian has become an official member of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
MS SHARON KWOK PONG
Sharon Kwok is a half-Chinese, half-American conservationist who has worked in Hong Kong’s public broadcasting and film industry since 1987.
Artist, actress, and an avid conservationist, Sharon Kwok has been a diver since she was 8 years of age and her love of the oceans has led her to become an active participant in the diving community. Sharon is an ADEX Ocean Ambassador, the first Asian inductee to the “Women Diver’s Hall of Fame” to date, and she was recently nominated as one of the ‘18 Most Influential Women in Ocean Conservation’ by Ocean Geographic. Her love of nature has also led her to be accepted into The Society of Women Geographers, and The Explorers’ Club.
In 2013, Sharon founded AquaMeridian Conservation and Education Foundation, a non-profit organization in Hong Kong to provide a Chinese based yet international conservation entity, which aims to change mindsets to end demands for endangered wildlife and enable sustainable lifestyles through creative and cross-cultural programs. Some of AquaMeridian’s local projects include celebrity-led campaigns for endangered animal species, working with or lobbying for conservation initiatives with governments, education seminars at school and corporations, as well as underwater and beach clean-ups that involved thousands of volunteers.
- Executive Director of AquaMeridian Conservation & Education Foundation
- Director of Mission Blue
- Director of WildAid
- Co-founder of the Explorers Club Hong Kong
- Inductee to W.D.H.O.F.
ADVISOR, CONSULTANT, OR SPEAKER OF CONSERVATION ISSUES AT:
- The Hong Kong Baptist University
- Technical University Hong Kong
- City University of Hong Kong
- World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong
- Ocean Park, Hong Kong
MEMBERSHIPS THAT MAY RELATE TO CONSERVATION WORK:
- Sierra Club Life Member since 1998
- Composers & Authors Society, Hong Kong
- Society of Women Geographers
- Royal Geographic Society since 2012
- International Member The Explorers Club
AquaMeridian Conservation and Education Foundation (AquaMeridian) is a registered Hong Kong-based non-profit organisation founded by celebrity and avid conservationist, Sharon Kwok in 2013. Sharon has worked in Hong Kong’s public broadcasting and cinematic field since 1987, and she is also a fine art major and makes use of this throughout the global Chinese Diaspora for advocacy.
AquaMeridian aims to educate and engage the public – particularly in Hong Kong – about conservation and sustainability issues through creative and cross-cultural programs.
We envision Hong Kong as a steward for environmental protection in Asia. Hong Kong, the “Fragrant Harbour”, is a city built on its relationship with the sea. Growing from a small fishing island to one of the busiest trading ports in the world, it has long been dependent on our local natural riches. But as our population and demand for resources grew, we neglected our roles as caretakers of the planet, with overfishing, ocean acidification, and pollution happening in our own waters.
Furthermore, Hong Kong acts as a hub for a thriving wildlife trade, with ivory and shark fin being bought and sold openly and legally. With Hong Kong long having been a multicultural bridge between the East and the West, as well as the gateway to China, increasing awareness of environmental issues within the city can have a far-reaching impact in the rest of Asia.
We believe that education is the key to a sustainable future for our planet. AquaMeridian supports IUCN’s Sustainable Use policy and advocates the sustainable use of natural resources. As a leading conservation and education organisation based in Hong Kong, we promote sustainable living lifestyles through public education and celebrity-driven mass media campaigns. We also strive to inspire a great love of nature so that together we can learn how to responsibly maintain the vital balance that supports all life as we know it.
Some examples of our previous conservation works include:
- Speaking out in California State Assembly for the initiation of bans on the United States’ shark fin and ivory trades;
- Working with numerous airlines and local businesses to curb non-sustainable trade in Hong Kong, as well as lobbying for the abolishment of the consumption of shark fin soup at local government functions;
- Being a key local player in the successful government legislation that will ban Hong Kong’s Ivory trade;
- Presented the more recent motion in May 2018 to increase the protection for Green Sea Turtles within Hong Kong waters, which met with unanimous support through Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.
We are strongly committed to harmonious working relationships with all local and international conservation and environmental bodies and agencies. During the past two CITIES COP, AquaMeridian worked with numerous NGOs to lobby for further protection of various species – the most notable being the pangolins movement during COP17, when all eight species were placed on CITES’ Appendix 1.
However, non-aggressive and entertaining education is the key to effectively reaching the masses, therefore we speak at educational institutions of all levels, corporations, beach clean ups that we initiate, and just about anywhere we have a platform. We have also produced educational materials such as finely detailed toys, recyclable bags, and scarves which all include educational information. At the moment, we are actively working with the Hong Kong Government Authorities to promote marine conservation and curb the use of single use plastics.
Changing Consumer Perceptions & Behaviour
China’s huge population, prosperity, and traditional culture places it front and centre in global conservation efforts. Yet, continued demand for endangered flora or fauna brings about both challenges and opportunities for those seeking to reverse the destruction to our environment.
Only by changing the perception of a population’s self-interest can attitudes and habits be changed. To that end, we are also working with some well-known old Hong Kong companies to help them phase out non-sustainable practices. For example, getting fast food chains to stop handing out single use plastics, or supporting a major Traditional Chinese Medicine company to promote education in the use of their sustainable products while urging them to advocate against the use of non-sustainable ingredients.
Our insatiable appetite for non-sustainable natural resources and our limited concern for environmental conservation must change in order to protect and preserve biodiversity as we know it. In so doing, we are preserving Earth for future generations.
Our Memberships and Affiliations
OUR MASCOT - SHARKAPHANT
Sharkaphant is AquaMeridian’s mascot. Sharkaphant was born on August 1 2014, and the first one was created by Sharon Kwok for Elephant Parade’s Hong Kong exhibition. He represents the largest fish in the sea (sharks) and the largest land animal (elephants) – both of which face possible extinction due to unnecessary traditional practices (i.e. shark’s fin soup and ivory carvings), which must change in order to protect and preserve these iconic species.
Sharkaphant represents the two major species that AquaMeridian Conservation & Education Foundation has been campaigning to save. The largest land animal and the largest fish of the seas, both iconic species are currently under serious threat. He is a symbol of hope for a sustainable future. Our oceans need sharks to stay healthy and we cannot live without healthy oceans which regulate our atmosphere while providing us with oxygen and water.
Since his debut, he has already brought smiles to many faces while spreading his vital message to put an end to shark fin consumption and ivory trading.
PAST AND ANNUAL EVENTS
Southern Hong Kong Hopespot
Hope Spots are special places that are scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean. Our Hope Spots are championed by local conservationists whom we support with communications, expeditions and scientific advisory.
I wish you would use all means at your disposal – films, expeditions, the web, new submarines, campaigns – to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.
– Dr. Sylvia Earle
The Southern Waters of Hong Kong are a unique, highly connected enclave in the South China Sea. The designated area across South Lantau, Soko Islands, South Lamma, Aberdeen, Po Toi and Cape D’Aguilar is home to rare endemic species including finless porpoises, sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, as well as the iconic Chinese white dolphins. Southern Hong Kong possesses exceptional biodiversity and lies within the historical migratory route for whales (e.g. minke, humpback, brydes and gray whales) and dolphins (bottlenose dolphins, risso dolphins), sea turtles, and squids.
“We want everyone to know how important the ocean is to our own health, as humans,” explains Sharon Kwok, Hope Spot Champion and actress, conservationist and Director of AquaMeridian Conservation & Education Foundation. She describes the dire conditions the area’s marine life populations are in. “Sustainable seafood just isn’t an option anymore – for many species, there is no such thing as sustainable consumption. It’s up to each of us to do what we can to alleviate the pressure on the ocean.”
AquaMeridian has been working to raise awareness for marine protection and lobby for the importance of sustainable development of coastal areas as well as marine waste issues such as plastics, abandoned ghost nets and marine debris. They’ve been successful in gathering support from legislators at the Legislative Council of Hong Kong to try and push the Hope Spot agenda forward. AFCD have verbally supported extending the protection of Sham Wan and Cape D’Aguilar. Soko Islands Marine Park is in the pipeline of becoming Hong Kong’s MPA in 2020.
Due to the failure in monitoring the established MPAs in Hong Kong, critics refer Hong Kong’s existing MPAs as “paper parks”, with illegal cross-border ships from China continuing to fish in the protected zones, hence a breach of trust between local fishermen (who were originally supportive of the MPAs), local Government and NGO groups. However, the Hong Kong government expressed their commitment to expanding the area’s marine protected areas and improving enforcement.
According to #146 of the Chief Executive’s Policy Address 2018, the Hong Kong Government “Will continue to take forward the measures under the New Agriculture Policy, including the works of the Agricultural Park Phase 1 to be commenced next year. We will recommend designating new fish culture zones at suitable locations, as well as resuming issuance of new marine fish culture licences, with a view to facilitating the change in mode of operation and sustainable development of the fisheries sector.
Many people believe that taking care of the planet is the next generation’s responsibility, but that’s not true. It’s our responsibility – right now – to create a better future for their children and grandchildren.Residents of the village are willing to help and stop egg poaching, etc. We want to reach out to them and get them engaged; that ecotourism is better than poaching. There are so many ways people can get involved. Diving groups can help with fishing net cleanup. On an individual level, people can reduce their consumption of fish. We’re seeing life come back; we must push Hong Kong to fulfil their ocean protection goals and invest in a healthy future for our waters.
A Study of the Conservation Biology of the Finless Porpoise in Hong Kong - 2000
Fisheries Resources and Fishing Operations in Hong Kong Waters - 1998
Interim Report on Marine Ecological Studies of Lamma, Soko and SW Lantau Islands 1998
Board of Directors
Sharon Kwok Pong
Executive Director & Founder
Over the past several years, Sharon has been playing an active role in environmental conservation, focusing especially on issues that are related to Hong Kong and China’s unsustainable exploitation of wildlife.
Founder Mr. Peter Jackson is the Executive Director and the Chief Executive Officer of Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Limited (AsiaSat). Having served in that position since July 1993 prior to the listing of the company, he has over 30 years’ experience in the field of telecommunications.
Ted Lipman (born 1953) is a former Canadian diplomat. He served in numerous roles including ambassador to North Korea and South Korea. Lipman's first work in Asia was to serve the Canadian embassy in Beijing from 1977 to 1980. Lipman then became the first Canadian trade commissioner in South China from 1982 to 1985.
Gigi graduated from the University of Manchester, Manchester School of Architecture, England, in Architecture with Honours. Subsequently, she worked with prominent British Architect and Urban Designer Sir Terry Farrell in London and Hong Kong where she participated in projects such as Kowloon Station, Tsuen Wan West Station, and various design competition submissions for prominent iconic buildings in mainland China. In 2017 she obtained her LLB from the University of London, and studied PCLL in FinTech: Law and Regulation; payments, alternative financing and cryptoassets.
BOARD OF ADVISORS
AQUAMERIDIAN MARINE AMBASSADORS
Hong Kong Parrot Rescue Group
Established in 2022, the Hong Kong Parrot Rescue Group was formed by a group of volunteers to reduce and rehabilitate exotic and non-native parrots and offer training and courses to parrot owners in Hong Kong.