Environmental groups have been warning about the potentially harmful effects of the Buddhist practice of “life release”, in which caught animals are freed to save them from slaughter.
They say the animals might, in fact, be brought to an environment that is not fit for their survival, or they may even cause harm to the environment where they are released.
But many still engage in the practice because, according to their religious beliefs, it brings good karma.
On the other hand, some people welcome the religious practice because it provides an opportunity for them to put food on the table.
This is what happened at Tsing Yi Pier, where a group of about 30 people gathered recently to conduct the Buddhist ritual, Apple Daily reports.
Several boxes containing clams, oysters, starfish, red snappers and other sea creatures were brought to the pier for the ceremony.
As workers poured the contents of the crates into the sea, people on a boat started reciting Buddhist scriptures to pray for blessings for themselves and the freed creatures.
Unknown to them, however, several people were hiding under the pier, waiting for the chance to catch the freed creatures.
A 12-year-old boy said he and other family members never fail to come to the pier every month for the religious ritual in order to bring home delicious seafood.
Catching the huge fish is easy right after they are released into the sea, the boy said.
And even if the fish are not caught, their chances of survival remain a big question.
Man Chi-sum, chief executive officer of Green Power, an environmental group, said life release is meant to keep the animals alive, and so it is incumbent upon those practicing the ritual to know the best environment for the creatures to survive before releasing them, hk01.com reported.
As the coastal area is mostly polluted, it is definitely not a good place for life release, Man said, adding that it might be better for people to do charity work to achieve the purpose of accumulating virtues.
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