Master of Journalism student and photojournalist, Alex Hofford, is exhibiting his work as part of the Man and Shark Exhibition at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) in Hong Kong.
Twenty photographs by Alex Hofford, Paul Hilton, another Hong Kong-based photojournalist, and other photographers from around the world, focus on the devastation wreaked on sharks by man.
They are up on the walls of the FCC bar until 30 September, 2010.
The photos tell the tale of shark finning – an horrific trade in which sharks have their fins cut off and are then tossed back into the sea to drown – all for their fins which are the main ingredient of the much coveted shark fin soup here and in China.
The photos show sharks swimming peacefully in the sea, being caught by fishermen, having their fins cut off, dead and finless at the bottom of the ocean, piled high in huge shark finning factories, the fins on sale in shark fin retailers in Hong Kong, and the end product – shark fin soup. The images are beautiful but harrowing in both the cruelty of this global trade and the scale of it.
“More than 70 percent of all shark fins traded globally pass through Hong Kong, mostly bound for the Chinese mainland. If that trade route was to end in Hong Kong, it would undoubtedly help return shark numbers to a sustainable level.”
This quote comes from the book, Man and Shark by Paul Hilton and Alex Hofford, which accompanies both the exhibition and a video of the same name. The book is published by Warrior Books.
“What we really wanted to show the world is that sharks are beautiful animals that are absolutely necessary to the continued health of our planet, and, as such, really should not be considered as food,” said Hofford.
Hofford has lived in Hong Kong for more than a decade, using the city as a base to cover stories in China and the region.
Recently, he spent four months in the Pacific Ocean for the environmental campaign group, Greenpeace International, covering the problems of plastic pollution, shark finning, over-fishing and illegal coastal development.
The last stop on his trip was an industrial shark finning factory in the northern fishing port of Kesen-numa, Japan.
As well as studying a Masters at the JMSC, Hofford is currently working on photographing toxic e-waste, air pollution and solar power issues in China.