China Faced With Tilapia Crisis

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
December 29, 2008

China’s tilapia farmers face a bleak new year with falling exports and profit margins as a result of overproduction, report industry experts.

Wholesale tilapia prices have dropped from $1.60 per kilogram to just $1 in recent months. Tilapia exports to the United States, which account for 70 percent of China’s total tilapia exports, fell 30 percent between October and December.

Figures also show export declines of up to 80 percent to other key markets like Russia, Israel and Mexico, according to the Web site jsof.gov.cn.

Industry experts say overproduction is the main cause of falling prices after last winter’s abnormally harsh weather wiped out many southern fish farms.

Professor Li Sifa from Shanghai Ocean University said farmers are continuing to breed tilapia despite the drop in demand, which could cause many businesses to fail.

Li’s view was echoed by Liu Caitian from Hainan New Ocean Fishery Trading. His orders have dropped 30 percent, with only three or four containers being exported a month now compared to four to five before August.

Wenchang, a center of tilapia breeding on Hainan Island, has seen feed input increase by one-fifth and its breeding area increase from 800 million square meters to 868 million square meters, illustrating the problem of oversupply. 

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