HK Fish Marketing Org Group Photo | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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HK Fish Marketing Org Group Photo

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HK Fish Marketing Org Group Photo
Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Friday, March 3, 1944

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I've just noticed this photo was taken in 1944 during the Japanese occupation. Please can you tell us any more about this organisation?

The Fish Marketing Organization is still in existence (https://www.fmo.org.hk/). The back of this photo was marked Showa 18, March 3 (昭和十八年三月三日), so based on that date, I believe it was taken in 1944. I am a little confused however, as the organization's webiste states it began in 1945 as part of the post-war effort.

My maternal grandfather Tsang Chiu Yan 曾眧仁 (the first man standing in a suit and tie from the left), worked for this organization until he retired. He received an MBE for his work there in the late 70's. 

I have many old photos from my grandfather's time working there, including banquets and tours my grandfather gave for some foreign (I assume British) dignitaries. I believe one photo is of my grandfather with Sir David Trench but I'm not entirely certain.

Here's the description from the FMO website:

The Fish Marketing Organization (FMO) was first established under the Defence Regulations in 1945 to assist in the post-war rehabilitation of the fishing fleet and to provide facilities for the orderly and efficient marketing of marine fish, whereby the industry could be developed and the socio-economic status of the fishing community be improved. 

I thought it was surprising that they'd start a new organisation so soon after the war, as there were lots of other problems to work on. I turned to Philip Snow's The fall of Hong Kong, and on p.302 where he looks at the results of the Japanese occupation he writes:

In the last days of August 1945 a report was drawn up by a certain S. Y. Lin, a one-time Superintendent of Fisheries Research, for the benefit of his pre-war chief, Dr Herklots, who was on the point of launching his new Fisheries Organisation. Lin gave a surprisingly positive account of the 'considerable success' achieved by the fish-handling system introduced under Japanese rule, and advised that the wholesale fish market to be founded by Herklots should be 'similar in the main to that which the Japanese had adopted, with some modification'. For example the district syndicates of the Japanese period could be 'changed easily into a Fishermen's Cooperative Society'. [199]

So it looks as though the British were moving ahead with a plans for the fishermen almost immediately after the Japanese surrender. But it also looks as though they got off to a running start by building on the organisation that the Japanese had set up, and I guess that is the organisation we see in your grandfather's photo above.