The declining oyster trade of Lau Fau Shan – HKU project to revive the 700 year old industry

Subject Update: The SCMP of 2nd January 2022 featured the following article, “Sceptical Hong Kong oyster farmers brace themselves for Northern Metropolis plans to transform their Deep Bay village”, linked below.

Lau Fau Shan Oysters Image SCMP 2.1.22

Courtesy: SCMP

HF: “For 700 years, the oyster beds of Lau Fau Shan have been producing the prized shellfish, but they’ve lost their lustre amid contamination fears linked to climate change. A four-part plan aims to revive the industry.” From the SCMP 17th January 2016.

Further extracts: A third-generation oyster farmer [Chan Yu Tong], …has seen the 700-year-old industry in Lau Fau Shan struggle to cope with challenges from inefficient cultivation methods and an ageing workforce to the occasional health scare.

Oyster beds, Lau Fau Shan, SCMP snipped image a 17.1.15

Chan Yu-tong, chairman of the Deep Bay Oyster Cultivation Association, welcomes the help for oyster farmers. Photos: Bruce Yan Courtesy: SCMP

“Oyster culture is important to Hong Kong because it is our cultural heritage, and the (cultivated) species (Crassostrea hongkongensis) is named after our city,” says Vengatesen Thiyagarajan.

Oyster beds, Lau Fau Shan, SCMP snipped image c 17.1.15

Associate professor Vengatesen Thiyagarajan and Ginger Ko check oyster samples at Hong Kong University. The pair are working on reviving oyster farming in Hong Kong. Courtesy: SCMP

That’s why the researchers are working to install a purification system in Lau Fau Shan, where harvested oysters will sit in ultraviolet-sterilised seawater for up to four days to remove bacteria from their system.

The 2,000 square metre facility, which can handle 10,000 oysters every day, is expected to open in the summer. Once the system is up, seafood lovers should be able to savour the home-grown oysters raw.

Oyster beds, Lau Fau Shan, SCMP snipped image b 17.1.15

A local woman collects oysters at Deep Bay in Lau Fau Shan. Courtesy: SCMP

Before raft culture became widespread in the ’80s, villagers in Lau Fau Shan practised bottom culture. This meant cultivating oysters from scratch, allowing larvae to settle naturally on wooden posts planted across a tidal flat and leaving them to grow to marketable size – a cycle that took up to four years. “If the conditions are right, all the wooden posts would be enveloped in oysters. But if we are unlucky, we’d be growing barnacles. This happens about every five years,” Chan says.

Both oyster growers and scientists are acutely conscious of the need to bring new blood into the industry. There are only about 100 oyster growers left in Lau Fau Shan, compared to 700 people in the halcyon days of the ’60 and ’70s.

Source: The scientists helping Hong Kong’s oyster farmers get over hard times – SCMP 17th January 2016


Sceptical Hong Kong oyster farmers brace themselves for Northern Metropolis plans to transform their Deep Bay village. SCMP 2nd January 2022.

This article was first posted on 20th January 2016.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. The Oyster industry in South China and Hong Kong, 1931
  2. Oyster Beds of the Wang Chau area, Yuen Long
  3. Pearl Oysters at Mirs Bay (Pearl Pool), Tai Po Sea, during the Five Dynasties – details of overland route to Tuen Mun
  4. The five Tang brothers – oyster farming Deep Bay, Sui Luen Weaving Mill 瑞麟 織造廠, Sui Luen Towel Mill 瑞麟毛巾 廠, Tung On Cheong Bakery 同安祥餅家 – further information provided by a granddaughter
  5. Hop Sing Lung Oyster Sauce (合勝隆)
  6. Pearl Cultivation – Tai Po Sea (Tolo Harbour)
  7. Pearl Farming in Hong Kong – attempt to revive the 1,000 year-old industry

One comment

  • Jennie Tang

    Thank you, Hugh Farmer. Great to hear some future revival plans for Lau Fau Shan 流浮山 (this article and the “Tech hub and eco-paradise” as reported in The Standard 22 Feb 2024. My family has long been associated with this area. My grandfather owned oyster beds in Deep Bay (also known by its Cantonese name, Hau Hoi Wan 后海灣), My father liked to entertain his business cohorts and factory empyees of Sui Luen Weaving Mill 瑞麟 織造廠 in Lau Fau Shan’s seafood restaurants. The present generation still goes there for seafood meals – fresh and delicious!. Best wishes to the big plans.

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