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    In Hong Kong, there is a boom in harvesting sea-urchins. The spawn of these small?

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    In Hong Kong, there is a boom in harvesting sea-urchins. The spawn of these small marine creatures is considered a delicacy, especially in Japan. But the interest in sea-urchins is not just a matter of culinary taste, but has sexual connotations as well.

    SYNOPSIS: The man behind Hong Kong's sea-urchin industry is a South Korean exporter, Mr. Chien Fuk-key. He discovered the South China Sea was rich in sea-urchins and brought over experienced women drivers from South Korea to collect them. The team can dive to a depth of 15 feet (4.5 metres) and stay on the sea floor gathering sea-urchins for three minutes, without the us of oxygen. Local fishermen are keen to compete with Mr. Chien, but cannot find divers in Hong Kong as skilled as his "Mermaids" from South Korea.

    Once the sea-urchins have been harvested, they are cleaned and sorted. The animals do not have a very appetizing appearance, with flat, round bodies covered in spines. They also have rather unsavourily eating habits enjoying a diet of vegetation and rotting debris. The sea-urchins are finally cut open and the valuable spawn removed. Mr. Chien has made profits of over half a million United States dollars a year since he started exporting sea-urchin spawn to Japan in 1975...Conn???isseurs of sea-food like their sea-urchin spawn raw, wrapped in sea-weed and served on a bed of rice. The dish has a great reputation among Japanese for boosting jaded sexual appetites. Hard to prove scientifically, but the belief is very food for business.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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