Stan Shea from BLOOM Hong Kong is awarded the 2023 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation

Stan Shea, the most long-standing member of BLOOM Association Hong Kong, was chosen to be one of the seven recipients of the 2023 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. This prestigious international program, along with a 3-year grant, supports expert researchers to find innovative and practical marine conservation solutions. Stan was selected to investigate the health diversity and potential climate change effect of reef fish populations in Hong Kong, an exceptionally diverse — but threatened — ecosystem.

Stan answers our questions about his work and commitment in favor of marine conservation.

How did you get into marine research and advocacy?

The key moment for me was while studying marine biodiversity and ecology at the University of Hong Kong. I was struck by the fact that researchers and conservationists were coming from all over the world to study Hong Kong’s marine ecology, while there was little involvement from local people. I felt like, as locals, we should (and could) be the ones to care even more. The decisive factor was meeting Claire when she set up BLOOM Hong Kong in 2009. I haven’t left this work ever since, and the more I learn, the more I realize how much research(es) is needed for the region.

What research topics are you most passionate about?

This is not an easy question, as there are many marine research topics or angles that are not yet addressed in Hong Kong. Our projects always aim to advance marine conservation by filling these gaps, like those concerning shark fin trade for example. We need data on the functioning and status of marine ecosystems in order to formulate and prioritize effective conservation work, which leads us to the project with Pew.

What is your research project with Pew and why is it important?

Pew’s support will first allow us to complete in 2024 a decade-long underwater reef fish survey, collected by recreational divers, who have been mobilized as citizen-scientists. The analysis of this dataset will then provide a detailed picture of the diversity, temporal distribution, and potential climate change impact of these reef fishes, to identify ‘key fish biodiversity areas’ and inform the setting up of marine protected areas. This project will also contribute to building an education and outreach program to encourage the general public and stakeholders to participate in marine conservation efforts in Hong Kong.

What would being a Pew Marine Fellow mean for your work at BLOOM?

Even though Hong Kong is a small city, there are a lot of awareness campaigns and research on marine biodiversity to conduct here. Hopefully through the support of such a well-known fellowship, the marine work in Hong Kong can get more attention from potential researchers, conservationists and of course funders – we always need more resources to do more.

Stan Shea (on the right) and Kathleen Ho, marine program manager at BLOOM Hong Kong, get ready for a survey dive on Hong Kong’s reef fishes. #PewMarineFellow

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