Public Lecture:
Saving the So Mei (Napoleon wrasse), One Fish at a Time

Date: April 17, 2018 (Tuesday)
Time: 5:30 pm (light refreshments from 5 pm)
Venue: Wang Gungwu Theatre, Graduate House, HKU
Medium: English
Speaker: Professor Yvonne Sadovy
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong


Click here to enlarge the poster

  • Public Lecture: Saving the So Mei (Napoleon wrasse), One Fish at a Time


The Napoleon, or Humphead, wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus (So Mei in Cantonese) is a massive reef fish that is a small but valuable part of the live reef food fish trade, for which Hong Kong is the global trade hub and Indonesia the major exporting country. High consumer demand and good profits for traders drive heavy exploitation on the Napoleon fish, while its biology makes it very easy to overfish. This uncommon species is considered to be 'conservation-dependent' and in need of careful and effective management to stop declines. It is now considered to be endangered (IUCN Red List) due to heavy international trade and was added to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix II in 2004. This important and powerful trade Convention requires that both exporting and importing countries control its trade.

This is the story of the spectacular Napoleon fish, from initial studies to discover its fascinating biology, to its CITES listing and work with both the Indonesian and Hong Kong governments to achieve legal trade, using some novel and unusual approaches, to safeguard the species' future. The Napoleon is a symbol of the broader challenge we face today with high value and uncommon species taken from the wild and an interest by wealthy consumers to showcase social status with rare luxury seafood. How can we balance high consumer demand and wealth with low natural supplies of fish? This is a serious challenge, not only with Napoleon but also with a growing number of fish and other charismatic species being threatened by international trade. What are the solutions?  

About the speaker

Yvonne Sadovy is a professor at The University of Hong Kong School of Biological Sciences and Swire Institute of Marine Sciences. She has been a marine biologist for over 30 years and has been in Hong Kong for 25 years. Before 1993 she worked in Puerto Rico, Caribbean, as Director of the government Fishery Laboratory. She is interested in the interaction between species' life history and exploitation patterns and its relevance for the conservation and management of fishes particularly vulnerable to overexploitation. She works in both source and destination countries, and with fishers, biologists, traders and government officials for legal and sustainable trade. Her work has had extensive media exposure including on both BBC Blue Planet series. She is Director of a small NGO to safeguard fish spawning aggregations.   

Location Map