Tensions were rising for both the Chinese event staff and the Japanese sales representatives. Moments later, the Japanese staff began to remove all the bluefin samples from the display as well as all the signage, and they weren’t happy. Unsure quite what to do next, the event staff and security turned around and simply walked away.

I hadn’t planned on this reaction at all, but here I was standing next to the only bluefin tuna stall at the expo that was now completely bare, except for some posters on the wall and nine staff members all standing and staring at me. What could I do? If I left, they would simply setup the bluefin sampling once again. So I decided that I must stay until the end of the day to ensure that wouldn’t happen.

Event personnel try to stop Sea Shepherd from documenting the sampling. Photo: Alex HoffordEvent personnel try to stop Sea Shepherd from documenting the sampling.
Photo: Alex Hofford
A large group gathers to sample the endangered bluefin tuna. Photo: Alex HoffordA large group gathers to sample the endangered bluefin tuna.
Photo: Alex Hofford

 

In the afternoon, the South China Morning Post newspaper came down to speak with me to find out what was going on. After several hours of waiting, the Japanese staff decided that they would start trying to give out their free samples again to see how I would respond. At first, it was absolutely gut wrenching watching the ignorant hordes of people come charging on this mass. As another tray of meat disappeared and I began feeling somewhat deflated, I felt compelled to do something. I pulled out my camera and started taking a photo of every person who tried to sample the meat from the endangered species. This strategy proved to be an instant crowd disperser and before long, it was just my new so-called friends and I alone together again at the booth.

Six o’clock finally came around and the expo came to a close. I bid the Japanese sales team farewell and told them I’d see them in the morning, their expressions alone were worth a photo themselves!

Click to read articleClick to read articleI awoke on Sunday morning to find a front-page article in the August 13th edition of the South China Morning Post (requires subscription). Upon arriving at the expo, I found no one at yesterday’s stand handing out bluefin tuna samples. I waited and waited, when finally, one of the staff turned up, saw me, and made a prompt call. Then, I waited and waited some more but no one came to open up shop! I remained at the expo all day until I was certain this stall did not open, pretty much the only stall not to open at the entire expo while everyone else was doing a roaring trade.

By taking the initiative to investigate the expo and asking one simple question, while standing my ground and wearing a well-known conservation organization’s black shirt, I had just in fact removed bluefin from one of the largest food expos in Asia. Despite the fact that this is only one expo and one instance, it is a win for the species nonetheless and an example of what can and should be done around the world. It has been a good weekend indeed!

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