By Mark Godfrey, SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from Beijing, China
Published on 26 June, 2013
Bullish expansion in China’s third-largest seafood producing region means more overseas fishing and an expansion of local brands for the domestic market. That’s the vision of the government in Fujian province, which recently brought together the region’s universities, maritime authorities and seafood industry representatives in a bid to establish “10 seafood superbrands from Fujian.”
Pledging grants and the support of the local (largely state-controlled) media, the Communist Party officials encouraged companies to cooperate in creating brands that can compete in a growing domestic market.
Officials in Fujian are keen to maintain momentum in local seafood output. From January to April this year fisheries output in Fujian was up 14.36 percent to 770,000 tons while revenue climbed 16.09 percent to CNY 730 million (USD 118 million, EUR 91 million). In the same time period the province exported 267,800 tons, up 38.1 percent year-over-year while exports value jumped 47.1 percent to USD 1.96 billion (EUR 1.5 billion) according to provincial authorities and China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association (CAPPMA), making Fujian the country’s number one province for seafood exports in that period.
The province’s location appears to have helped exports, with demand for the nearby Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region proving particularly useful. ASEAN ranks the number one destination for seafood shipments according to customs in Fuzhou, the regional capital.
New markets also seem to have helped Fujian’s figures — particularly Africa and Latin America. Exports to Ghana doubled in the first quarter of 2013 while shipments to Mexico were up 31 percent, according to the provincial customs report, which didn’t provide a specific figure for Ghana.
Customs in Quanzhou, one of Fujian’s leading port cities, reported that exports to ASEAN, EU and Africa totaled 6,569 tons, 779 tons and 652 tons respectively. Key export categories included frozen cuttlefish, frozen squid and frozen mackerel. The provincial sanitary inspection authorities claim a 99.9 percent clearance rate for seafood exports from Fujian.
The city of Ningde meanwhile has become an aquaculture hub focused on yellow croaker, a favorite of domestic markets as well as export destinations like Korea. Ningde is claiming its seafood exports rose to 53,000 tons worth USD 300 million (EUR 230 million), up 134 percent and 155 percent respectively, with Korea the top destination for product shipped.
China has put much emphasis in recent years on increasing trade with Africa and Latin America, largely by government-to-government agreements and with the help of preferential loans to developing countries in return for access to local markets. Likewise fisheries here have turned to overseas waters for fish to feed growing domestic demand. Fujian has 24 companies operating 277 vessels on the high seas and has 209 vessels currently under construction.
Fujian’s semi tropical climate has served it well in aquaculture while its location near Taiwan has allowed it to attract investment from the nearby island (which China claims as a province) over the years. With previously frosty relations now improving, Taiwan has proven a major market for Fujian seafood, importing USD 20 million (EUR 15.4 million) worth of tuna from Fujian in the first four months of this year. That’s a 20-fold increase year-over-year. Imports of sea eels rose threefold to USD 29 million (EUR 22.3 million) and squid shipments rose 77 percent year-over-year to USD 29 million.