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China’s seafood production is forecasted to total 55.3 million metric tons in 2012, up more than 1 percent from 2011, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).

Though China’s seafood production continues to increase, it’s growing at the slower rate than in previous years. Production of wild-caught fish, including fish sourced from overseas for processing in China, has essentially leveled off, and production of farmed fish is slowing.

For example, the area dedicated aquaculture increased 5 percent from 2009 to 2010, whereas it increased 14 percent from 2008 to 2009, a sign that investment in new fish farms is receding, according to the report.

However, China’s re-processing sector remains stable. Citing China’s Ministry of Agriculture, the FAS said, in the first three quarters of 2011, imported seafood processed for export reached 900,000 metric tons valued at USD 3.85 billion, up 13 percent and 22 percent, respectively, from the same nine-month period in 2010. The total number of seafood processing facilities in China now stands at 9,762, up from 9,635 in 2009.

As for trade, the value of China’s seafood exports are expected to hit USD 21.7 billion in 2011, up from USD 17.2 billion in 2010. That’s a USD 10.2 billion trade surplus.

Thanks to rising affluence, which is driving dietary habits toward alternative protein sources, China’s per-capita seafood consumption continues to increase, reaching 20 kilograms in 2010, up from 17.5 kilograms in 2005, according to the report.

Click here to access the 21-page report > 

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