Chinese city’s plan to create Atlantic salmon farming hub met with skepticism

An offshore aquaculture pen being developed by Wanzefeng.

A Chinese city on the country’s east coast has outlined plans to construct a complete salmon industry value chain – from cage making to fry farming to processing – that has drawn skepticism on whether the city can pull off such an ambitious venture.

The plan, announced recently by the municipal government of Rizhao, involves an investment of nearly CNY 1 billion (USD 140 million, EUR 130 million) from Wanzefang Fishery Company to be used in constructing a research and development center, salmon-processing factories, deep-sea cages, and marine farms at an industrial park in the city.

Rizhao’s municipal government said the project should produce 20,000 metric tons (MT) of salmon annually at full capacity, and inject CNY 8 billion (USD 1.1 billion, EUR 1 billion) into the local economy by 2025.

Wanzefang already operates a few salmon-farming ventures in China, including a 1,400-ton platform designed for farming salmon off the coast of Rizhao and a separate fish farm that features tourist facilities and a hotel.

Wanzefeng CEO Li Ze Ming said that through these combined operations, his company aims to create “China’s number-one salmon brand,” aligning with China’s larger push to spur investment in offshore aquaculture.

That push is being aided by the provincial government of Shandong, the province in which Rizhao is located, setting a framework to encourage offshore aquaculture in the province. And national fishery officials at the Chinese Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs have pushed policies that prioritize the future development of offshore aquaculture, boosted by subsidies.

Fan Xubing, the CEO of Beijing-based seafood marketing firm Seabridge, said ...

Photo courtesy of Shandong Wanzefeng Fishery


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