China’s seafood production growth slowed in 2015

Published on
February 9, 2016

China’s production of seafood has slowed with annual output of aquatic products reaching 66.9 million tons in 2014, an increase of 3.5 percent, according to data published by the Chinese agriculture ministry which oversees fisheries. China’s total output of seafood in 2014 totalled 64.5 million tons, up 4.5 percent over the previous year. The growth figure reported for 2013 was also 4.5 percent year on year when China’s seafood output totalled over 61.72 million tons. Of the 66.9 million tons, 2.1 million tons came from China’s overseas fleet.

The data was included in a circular to provincial governments listing China’s priorities for the fishing sector for the next five years. Chinese fisheries officials have been busy over the past year drafting and publicising the targets for the 16th Five Year Plan, which started in January. While laced with vague exhortations to “innovation,” “green model of development” for Chinese fisheries, the blueprint does state some core goals: among them the popularisation of ‘sea ranching’ – mariculture at deep sea levels in particular. In the aquaculture sector meanwhile, government wants more scrutiny of antibiotics use through better screening of producers.

Also, the Plan calls for provincial authorities to crack down on poaching and “strengthen the protection of sea turtles, red coral, giant clams, sharks, manta rays, kingfish, sturgeon, eel and other key species.”

There’s a reference to an intensified crack-down over the next five years on what China terms the "three no ships": this is a slogan regularly used by authorities in reference to the fishing vessels operating without number, ship certificate or listed home port. China has made a high profile example of some of these vessels by destroying them in public displays of resolve widely reported by state media. Government also wants to crack down on ‘juehu nets’: a reference to nets of an extremely low gauge which scoop up lots of smaller fish and crustaceans.

But while it’s cracking down at home China has also set “going out” – a reference to investments and activities overseas – as a key objective for the national fisheries sector in the new five year plan. While China’s offshore fishing output of 2.1 million tons was up 3.4 percent year on year in 2015 the country has increased its catch four-fold since 2000. In the past 30 years China has increased the scale of its long-distance fishing 300-fold, with the 2.1 million tons caught in 2014 comparing strongly to 2,600 metric tons in 1985 (official figures). China fished CNY 18.5 billion (USD 2.96, EUR 2.59 billion) worth of fish from the high seas in 2014, a 4,000-fold increase on 1985 figures.

The top official overseeing the fisheries sector, vice-minister for agriculture Niu Dun has said his priorities are encouraging more innovative types of seafood processing and improving the quality and range of species in the aquaculture sector. He’s also promised to give more government support to improving insurance coverage as well as access to credit for the fisheries sector.

Other data released include average net income of fishing families reached CNY 15,590 (USD2371.25, EUR 2096.87), an increase of 8.1 percent while 307 people were lost or missing following fisheries accidents last year.

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