With Chinese New Year approaching, those who celebrate it will no doubt start shopping for and stocking up on traditional delicacies. And the Chinese have been notorious for their voracious consumption of seafood, going back to a time when the sea seemed infinitely rich for the picking. Today, when marine life sustainability is under threat, Mexican artist Jaime Ruiz decided to create an original six by five metre mural at Hong Kong’s iconic Peak Tower to raise awareness about unsustainable consumption of seafood products in South China.
In the mural, located next to the upper entrance of the Peak Tram station, Ruiz depicts two critically endangered marine species that are native to Mexico: the totoaba, a large fish, which is the target of illegal fishing as a result of Chinese demand for its high-value fish-maw; and secondly the vaquita, a small porpoise, which is nearing extinction at a rapid pace due to its entrapment in nets used to illegally fish totoaba.
The Consul General of Mexico in Hong Kong, Damian Martinez, recognised the valuable support of many organisations in Hong Kong towards this project, particularly that of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited who own and operate The Peninsula Hotels, The Peak Complex and The Repulse Bay, which will undoubtedly help raise awareness about the crucial issue of marine conservation and sustainability.
“The Peak Tower is an iconic landmark in Hong Kong that attracts thousands of visitors each day. If only a fraction of these visitors can receive our message, we firmly believe change will happen,” said Martinez.
The Consulate General of Mexico has advocated in Hong Kong to help save the two marine species depicted by the artist in the mural. The Government of Mexico has made large-scale efforts to counter the illegal fishing and trafficking of totoaba in the Gulf of California, while enhancing its cooperation with international partners such as Mainland China and the Hong Kong authorities. It has also sought to avoid the extinction of the vaquita porpoise through a private-public coalition called Vaquita CPR.
“The sustainability of our oceans and the survival of marine life depends on the choices we make as consumers. We must change our personal and social habits,” said Martinez.
The Artist: Jaime Ruiz was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1985. With studies in graphic design and visual arts, Jaime Ruiz deals with social issues such as the transition from rural to urban, the social and community based organization of work, citizen participation, urban expressions, cultural identity, and the long-lasting legacy of colonialism. He is also a university professor in Mexico and collaborates with different art networks and experimentation projects with various artistic subjects.