China’s distant-water fishing sector lobbies government for support for fishing bases

Published on
May 29, 2020

Chinese fishing firms are lining up to get distant-water bases built as part of any fiscal stimulus plan being readied by the central government.

One of the projects breaking ground is the Fuzhou Lianjiang National Distant-Water Fishing Base, which is being billed as a CNY 1.5 billion (USD 210 million, EUR 195 million) investment on a 336-hectare site.

“Aside from Rongcheng and Zhoushan, this is one of only three such bases to get official designation from the Ministry of Agriculture [as a national distant water fishery base],” noted a statement on the project issued by local government in Lianjiang, a surburb of Fuzhou city on China’s southeastern coast.

The project will create jobs and revenues locally and ensure a steady supply of “deep-sea, high-protein, no-pollution food,” added a banner raised at the launch, which was covered extensively by local TV and newspapers.

One of the key movers in the project is Fuzhou Hong Dong Yuan Yang Fishing Co., a firm best known for its project in Mauritania, and with stated plans to invest in catch and aquaculture fisheries across West Africa and Latin America. The company’s chairman promoted the Lianjiang project at the recent meeting of China’s National People’s Congress in Beijing.

Chinese businesses and regional officials have been furiously lobbying central government to greenlight infrastructural projects as part of a post-COVID recovery plan, though China’s efforts will be limited by a debt overhang from previous stimulus packages.

Aside from Hong Dong, names mentioned on Shandong TV as tenants at the Lianjiang Park include logistics firm Shun Feng, e-commerce company, and Cainiao, the logistics company set up by Alibaba.  The project will involve the building of a port with deep-sea berthing. Roads are already being built by the local government.

Local governments around China have long pursued big-ticket construction projects as a driver of economic growth, even though many infrastructural and real estate projects have turned out to be white elephants. 

The Fuzhou development will be highly reliant on distant-water catches and will likely further drive the development of the Chinese fleet. Fuzhou executives and officials will no doubt be looking to Rongcheng’s tuna processing sector, led by Xinfa Holdings, a conglomerate with fishing, processing, and shipbuilding interests globally. The firm catches, processes, and cans yellowfin tuna.

The investment proposed in Fuzhou should be put into context of reported earnings in Rongcheng. In an interview with Shandong provincial TV recently, company chairman Wang Xiaojun said he wanted to grow annual revenues of CNY 5 billion (USD 700 million, EUR 650 million) through new value-added products and the extraction of collagen from tuna bones. The company’s revenues are currently at CNY 4.6 billion (USD 644 million, EUR 598 million), according to Wang.

Photo courtesy of Provincial Government of Lianjiang, China

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