China looks to big data to improve fisheries, aquaculture management

Published on
January 21, 2019

A new body has been set up in China to harness big data and artificial intelligence to modernize the country’s aquaculture and wild-catch fisheries. 

The China Intelligent Fisheries Association was created recently as a sub-group of the China Fisheries Association (CFA) to bring data specialists, fishing companies, and government officials together to harness data to improve management in both catch and farmed fisheries. 

Xie Zhu, the CEO at Ningbo Hui Shang IT Co, a firm specializing in wi-fi and satellite systems that allow Chinese trawlers to sell their catch from offshore, has been named the head of the new organization. Xie said China is looking at the power of data and automation to increase efficiencies and reduce disease and pollution, as well as labor costs in aquaculture and fisheries. 

“Huge efficiencies can be achieved in China’s fisheries with big data,” Xie said.

One of the corporate members of the new organisation is Wuhan Zhong Yi Tian Di Wireless Science and Technology Co., which specialises in monitoring water quality. It lists Peter Mather, a professor at Queensland (Australia) University of Technology, as an advisor and claims membership in the “China-Israel Intelligent Fisheries System.”

While its enhanced intelligence-gathering capacity and technological advances have raised tensions in Western capitals, China has made big data and artificial intelligence major priorities for economic development. The country’s status as the top global aquaculture producer, and the world’s biggest seafood exporter and importer, make it a prime location for advancement in both fields, according to Xie. 

Also on board at the new body is Jiu Ci Fang Big Data Co. (it uses the English name JusFoun in its logo), which in June signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Fisheries Association to continue working together on big data in research and development, logistics, and finance in the seafood sector. The CFA has come to see data and AI as tools in making aquaculture or fisheries a more predictable and less risky prospect for local banks to support with loans.

Liu Yan Hua, the chair of Zhong Lian Intelligence Science Co. (also trading as Central Tech), has been named deputy chairperson of the new entity. Liu’s firm recently visited trout farming firm Qinghai Minze Long Yang Xi Ecological Aquaculture Co, located in the high Himalayan province of Qinghai, to advise the firm on how to improve production and marketing by harnessing data and IT. 

Other corporate members include Da Bei Nong, a large feed production company with an interest in using big data to improve feed application and sales. Also listed as a member is Wang San Shou, a major Chinese firm focused on big data. The company signed a deal with the China Fisheries Association last summer for a project that will combine data from the association’s 1,000 member firms, including manufacturers, processors, and distributors “to improve warning forecasting and strategic decision making as well as branding of seafood products” according to Lin Yi, the secretary general of the CFA.  

China will seek to harness big data and machine learning to combat disease and illegal fishing as well as pollution threats, according to Lin.

Photo courtesy of China Fisheries Association

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