Stand-off ups tension between shrimp farmers and environmental authorities in China

Published on
August 17, 2018

A stand-off between shrimp farmers and authorities in eastern China has highlighted the pressure on China’s aquaculture sector from the enforcement of stricter environmental laws. 

Tighter enforcement of environmental regulations has seen wholesale closures of aquaculture facilities in sensitive shoreline, wetland and reservoir areas around China this year, with a resultant inflationary impact on prices.  

After authorities moved to close shrimp farms in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, the operators of the ponds took to the streets in dissatisfaction at what they believe is inadequate compensation for the razing.

A note from local authorities offering compensation of CNY 5.00 (USD 0.73, EUR 0.64) per square meter also notified shrimp farmers that the electricity to their facilities would be cut off later this month. But the shrimp farmers claim that government encouraged investment in shrimp facilities in 2014 and are seeking higher compensation, as well as guarantees on new land.  

In response to the protest, a combined force of police, military police and ‘chen guan’ – an urban uniformed inspectorate tasked with public order and civic tidiness – forced the removal of the roadblocks and the removal of the shrimp facilities.

Even as environmental enforcement picks up, local governments in China’s coastal provinces have been keen to increase aquaculture production offshore. Higher prices may have something to do with that push. The increase in value of seafood sold in June was almost double the increase in volume at the central seafood wholesale market in the coastal city of Weihai, normally a bellwether for prices along China’s east coast. Value of sales rose 2.3 percent to CNY 49.8 million (USD 7.2 million, EUR 6.4 million), while volume grew 1.7 percent to 48,130 metric tons. A statement from the market announcing the prices pointed to the wholesale seizure and destruction of aquaculture facilities in Hunan Province – a major center of the freshwater aquaculture production  – as a price-driver.

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