China Agricultural Development Company touts progress in turning Shenzhen into tuna hub

A bluefin tuna cutting show during the 2023 Shenzhen International Fisheries and Seafood Expo
A bluefin tuna cutting show during the 2023 Shenzhen International Fisheries and Seafood Expo | Photo courtesy of Shenzhen Government
4 Min

A Chinese state-owned conglomerate is using the Shenzhen Fishery Expo to promote its plans to become a price-setter in global seafood markets.

The China Agricultural Development Company (CADC), which is supervised directly by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, is the parent company of one of China’s leading distant-water fishing firms, CNFC Overseas Fishery, as well as four companies it established in Shenzhen in 2023 – the Shenzhen International Tuna Trading Co., the China Fishery Global Marine Food Co., Shenlan Modern Food Co., and Shenzhen Hemei Fishery Co.

Speaking at a press conference at the expo, which took place 17 to 19 May at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center, CADC Head of Special Projects Dong Enhe said his company has developed sourcing plans for deep-sea shrimp, tuna, pollock, and Antarctic krill.

Tuna will be a particular focus, as Shenzhen has positioned itself to become a global tuna trading and processing hub. Its location adjacent to Hong Kong in China’s wealthiest region has made Shenzhen a key part of China’s plans to increasingly integrate the area into one Greater Bay Area. Enhe said Shenzhen International Tuna Trading Co. is working to develop “pricing power” in global tuna markets. In 2022, the company signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Shenzhen’s municipal government to develop a distant-water fishing base in the city.

In 2022, Shenzhen’s municipal government announced it would subsidize up to 30 percent of the cost of each new fishing vessel built locally using Shenzhen Municipal Fishery Modernization Assistance Funds. The city government has also authorized subsidies for seafood support services, including CNY 17,600 (USD 2,431, EUR 2,240) per ton available to distant-water fishing firms for air-freighting chilled tuna back to Shenzhen; CNY 1,500 (USD 207, EUR 190) per ton available to transport tuna by sea; and CNY 1,300 (USD 180, EUR 165) per ton payable for the transport of other “self-caught” seafood species back to Shenzhen.

Shenzhen's fishing output reached 87,000 metric tons in 2023, up 6.8 percent year over year. Shenzhen's global expansion strategy has resulted in the establishment of 15 overseas offices in such countries as Mozambique, Malaysia, Iran, and Thailand, as well as fishing bases in Micronesia and Laos, according to Shenzhen's government.

China’s government has emphasized the importance of securing food security through access to global fishery resources and has backed that effort through trade deals and access agreements.

According to a document of “guiding opinions” for the development of the distant-water fishery sector during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021 to 2025), China is targeting “cooperation” on fishery issues in East Africa and the South Pacific while also looking more closely at Latin America, West Asia, and South Asia. The document, published by the China Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), sets a goal for China’s distant-water catch to total 2.3 million tons in 2025.

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