As demand grows, salmon farms spring up in China and Korea

Published on
December 2, 2016

A dramatic increase in worldwide demand for salmon is spawning aquaculture projects across Asia.

In recent weeks, two large-scale salmon farming projects have been announced in China and South Korea.

The first, initiated by Yunnan Ao Chang Nong Ye Kai Fa Co. is set to break ground in Tengchong, in the mountainous province of Yunnan, which borders Laos and Myanmar and has an economy primarily built around processing and trading jade and timber from Burma. The RMB 70 million (USD 10.2 million, EUR 9.5 million) project will focus on salmon breeding and will be built with the assistance of Chilean advisors.

Information is lacking on the exact details of the project, but it appears that its salmon will be raised on the Bing Lang River and the Da Cha River using deep-water cages. The firm hasn’t yet announced details of its Chilean partner, but the project has the backing of local government. The government, in a statement, says it expects to create hundreds of jobs through a local cooperative participating in the salmon project.

“Salmon breeding can contribute 20 million yuan (USD 2.9 million, EUR 2.7 million) per year in taxes to the local economy,” according to the Tengchong government statement.

Tengchong is 760 kilometers, or 470 miles, from the provincial capital, Kunming. While there are daily flights to Kunming and to Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, through a newly built local airport, the project has not revealed how its salmon will be distributed cost-efficiently to major population centers.

In South Korea, in a move the mirrors developments in China, a farm in Goseong County in Gangwon Province has begun producing farmed salmon. According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in Seoul, 500 tons of salmon will be sold from the farm this autumn. The project, run by, is raising the salmon in cages which are dropped as deep as 25 meters deep to maintain survivable temperatures for the salmon, which are bred from eggs from Canada.

South Korea’s government has also invested in the project, as it seeks a solution that will allow it to substitute salmon imports with local salmon while also encouraging private investment. Salmon sales have soared in Korea in part due to the spread of Japanese sushi cuisine in this highly urbanized country.

Regardless of its success, Donghae’s marketing claim that it the farm makes Korea “the first Asian country to successfully farm salmon,” is incorrect. Salmon has been bred for a decade in northern China and in North Korea.

Despite its relatively longevity as an entity in Asia, salmon farming has not taken off on the continent. Asian states have struggled to supply adequate freshwater and ocean water to suit salmon breeding, which requires water temperatures of less than 20 degrees Celsius. That is difficult, given that temperatures in the Yellow Sea connecting Korea and China soar to 30 degrees Celsius and above in mid-summer.

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