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“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”

– Annie Leonard

We are marine ecologists, food scientists and engineers who care about ocean health and seafood sustainability.

Seafood nutrition and contamination

We provide baseline information of fatty acids, amino acids and other nutrients in seafood such as fish and bivalve shellfish. Contaminants are also analysed in seafood and the environment, for instance, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, antibiotics and particularly microplastics (see below). In the larger picture, we explore how the physiology, scope for growth and nutritional profiles of seafood species, and their uptake and bioaccumulation of contaminants, would change under scenarios of global warming and ocean acidification.

Fish Stall

Microplastics and their impacts

Plastic debris is long-lasting and can be fragmented into microplastics, which have become an emerging contaminant in food and the environment. Microplastics also serve as a vector for other environmental chemicals and pathogenic microorganisms in long-distance transport. In MEAL, plastic particles at the microscale and submicroscale are assessed with Raman spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy (FTIR and O-PTIR), along with other analytical approaches. We also perform toxicity tests to evaluate the impacts of microplastics on human health and animal health.


Marine aquaculture technologies

We work on feed formulation for fish and shellfish to improve their immunity and nutritional quality (e.g. DHA and EPA), and develop hatchery techniques for pearl oysters, sea urchins and other important seafood species. Other research topics include integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, and the use of seaweed farming for extra food production and blue carbon sequestration. Our close connection to the government and local fishermen plays a significant role in knowledge transfer of our research to the aquaculture industry in Hong Kong.


Conservation of marine ecosystems

Coral reefs and oyster reefs sustain very high biodiversity and provide nurseries for many seafood species. Protection of these habitats is therefore vital to safeguard seafood sustainability. However, these important habitats are under threat due to human activities as well as bioerosion. Our goal here is ecological restoration of these habitats using artificial reefs made with 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies. The internal features of coral skeletons and oyster shells, such as the extent of bioerosion, can be quantitatively analysed with micro-CT.


Representative grants (out of >40 grants exceeding HK$50 million)

  1. PI, Restoration of pearl oysters in Hong Kong for environmental and community benefits, Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, USA (2024–2027; Ref. 2024-A-30483; US$150,000, approx. HK$1,173,000)

  2. PI, Enhancing marine conservation education through advanced 3D imaging technologies: exploring the impact of microplastics on stony corals, Hong Kong Offshore LNG Terminal Project Marine Conservation Enhancement Fund, HKSAR (2024–2026; Ref. MCEF22117; HK$1,450,000)

  3. PI, Size does matter: an exploration to understand the formation, abundance and impact of submicroplastics in the marine environment, General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, HKSAR (2023–2025; Ref. PolyU15307322; HK$870,000)

  4. Advisor, Provision of service on development and implementation of citizen science programme for subtidal habitats in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, consultancy service for Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, HKSAR Government (2022–2024; Ref. AFCD/SQ/213/21; HK$1,392,505). Leading PI: Apple Pui-Yi Chui, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  5. PI, Hatchery of pearl oysters in Hong Kong: a pilot study, Hong Kong Offshore LNG Terminal Project Fisheries Enhancement Fund, HKSAR (2021–2024; Ref. FEF20011; HK$2,299,000)

  6. PI, Provision of services for baseline survey on microplastics in Hong Kong’s river water, consultancy service for Environmental Protection Department, HKSAR Government (2022–2024; Ref. 21-04636; HK$1,359,970)

  7. PI, On the path to carbon neutrality: assessing the potential of pearl oyster aquaculture for ecological carbon sequestration, donation by Hang Seng Bank Limited, and Research Matching Grant Scheme, Research Grants Council, HKSAR (2022–2023; Ref. P0043983; HK$450,000)

  8. PI (Hong Kong), Precision manufacturing and bioactivation of artificial reefs to facilitate coral restoration, Mainland-Hong Kong Joint Funding Scheme, Innovation and Technology Fund, HKSAR, co-funded by Ministry of Science and Technology, China (2021–2023; Ref. MHP/009/19; HK$2,169,815 + CN¥1,610,000 = approx. HK$4,100,900). Another PI (Mainland China): Cai Lin, Shenzhen Institute of Guangdong Ocean University

  9. PI, Development of a high-protein fish feed enriched with selenium, Fisheries Enhancement Fund, HKSAR (2021–2022; Ref. FEF2020009; HK$1,455,472)

  10. PI, Cumulative effects of microplastics and harmful microalgal growth on marine ecology and seafood safety in Hong Kong, Environment and Conservation Fund, HKSAR (2021–2023; Ref. ECF80/2020; HK$481,600)

  11. PI, Monitoring the seasonal distribution of microplastics in the Mai Po Nature Reserve, Environment and Conservation Fund, HKSAR (2021–2023; Ref. ECF134/2020; HK$499,067)

  12. PI, Impact of microplastics on life-history stages of hard corals, Environment and Conservation Fund, HKSAR (2019–2022; Ref. ECF76/2018; HK$1,697,000)

  13. PI, Microplastics in the coastal waters of Hong Kong: provision of scientific data for secondary education, contract research for World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong, HKSAR (2019–2021; Ref. 19-037; HK$140,800)

  14. PI, Impact of microplastics on the Chinese horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus in Hong Kong western waters, Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund, HKSAR (2018–2020; Ref. MEEF2018011A; HK$848,000)

  15. PI, The application of multiple bioindicators on marine pollution monitoring, Environment and Conservation Fund, HKSAR (2018–2020; Ref. ECF66/2017; HK$495,000)

  16. Co-PI, Optical and computational technologies to combat microplastics and nanoplastics pollution, Research Impact Fund, Research Grants Council, HKSAR (2022–2026; Ref. R7003-21; HK$8,290,000). Leading PI: Edmund Yin-Mun Lam, The University of Hong Kong

  17. Co-PI, The impact of microplastics on brain health and reproductive health and the damage of barrier function, Cooperation Special Project, Alliance of International Science Organisations, China (2022–2024; Ref. ANSO-CR-KP-2021-22; CN¥1,200,000). Leading PI: Lei Li, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

  18. Co-PI, Earth BioGenome Project: Hong Kong, Collaborative Research Fund Equipment Grant, Research Grants Council, HKSAR (2021–2024; Ref. C4015-20E; HK$3,250,000). Leading PI: Jerome Ho-Lam Hui, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  19. Co-PI, Modernised production and research plan for sustainable mariculture development, Sustainable Fisheries Development Fund, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, HKSAR Government (2020–2023; Ref. SFDF-0035; HK$6,761,630). Leading PI: Kevin Kwok, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  20. PI, An investigation on heavy metal pollution associated with mariculture in Norway, contract research for Institute of Marine Research, Norway (2017–2018; Ref. 14097/55674; HK$75,992)

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