China doubles down on offshore mariculture for tech exports, food security

The Guoxin No. 1

China is pushing a major expansion of its mariculture sector as a valuable technology export opportunity and a fix for domestic food security issues.

The municipal government of Yantai in the key aquaculture region of Shandong recently announced it will build “50 demonstration zones for deepwater mariculture” over the next five years. Sun Chenglie, a researcher at the Yantai Ocean Development and Fishery Bureau, recently said at a government press conference the 50 zones are a recommendation of the “2022 Blue Book on the Construction of the Marine Ranch in Yantai Sea Area,” which aims to make Yantai a “world-class” city for mariculture production and technology.

China’s government is coming to see economic opportunity in mastering new technology for the expanding global market for offshore aquaculture, in much the way it has taken a dominant position in the markets for railway technology, electric cars, wind turbines, and solar panels.

Several prominent mariculture facilities developed by China, including the Genghai 1 platform and the Guoxin 1 vessel, have recently been featured in documentaries on state television, a medium frequently used to highlight Chinese government priorities. Developed by Qingdao-based Guoxin Development Group, the Guoxin 1 “smart-aquaculture” vessel was the focus of a feature on the popular finance program CCTV 2 finance show Jing Ji Feng Yun, with company executives saying the 100,000-ton vessel is the first of five the firm expects to launch in the next five years, allowing Guoxin to rapidly expand its production of premium species including yellow croaker, grouper, and salmon.

Executives from Guoxin told a camera crew aboard the vessel, which recirculates sea water, the firm is targeting CNY 300 million (USD 45 million, EUR 40.5 million) worth of production in 2023.

Aside from the Guoxin 1 and the Lu Lan Yu 61699, China also has three deep-water mariculture platforms in operation – the Hai Xia 1, the Geng Hai 1, and the Sheng Hai 1, as well as the Shen Lan 1, a deep-water cage.

China’s plunge into offshore aquaculture was given major backing in 2022 after Chinese Vice Premier Liu He emphasized deep-water mariculture could help guarantee China’s food security. Heightened geopolitical tension has accelerated the urgency of the issue of food security in China, as it has been the predominant topic of coverage by agricultural policy papers over the past...

Photo courtesy of Guoxin Development Group

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