Chinese fishing firm seeks to dominate Antarctic with massive trawler

Chinese fishery officials are celebrating the launch of a large new trawler, the Ming Kai, which is being promoted in China as giving the country an edge in the hunt for shrimp and other species in Antarctic waters. It is Asia's largest processing trawler, according to a statement by the Qingdao Ocean & Fisheries Bureau, a government body.

Launched by Qingdao Ocean Fishing Co., also a government controlled entity, the vessel (whose name translates literally as ‘Bright Going Out’) the vessel comes in at 120.7 meters in length, with carrying capacity of 7,765 metric tons (MT) and will carry a crew of 122.

Pictured this month in the farming pages of the People’s Daily (the main mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party) newspaper, the Ming Kai is expected to land an annual haul of 12,000 MT of Antarctic krill and shrimp worth USD11.7 million (EUR 10.29 million), according to the Bureau’s statement, which described the Antarctic as a “vast area [that] bears abundant marine resources, including six to 10 million tons of krill.”

In words that will give conservationists pause, the Bureau’s statement describes the Antarctic as “the world's largest repository of animal protein, the biological equivalent to the current annual global marine catch, with huge potential for exploitation.”

The statement, which is unusually blunt in its declaration of China’s intent, states that “comprehensive development and utilization of Antarctic marine resources of great strategic importance,” given the “natural resources are relatively scarce” for such a populous country [China].

Qingdao Ocean Fishing Co. released a brief statement saying that it was fulfilling a national “going out” strategy of the Chinese government.

Long a hub for the seafood processing industry, Qingdao has in recent years been issuing policies and subsidies to increase the presence of local long-range vessels on the high seas. Building a “strong ocean city” and “frog-leaping the competition in long-distance offshore fishing” are both central to the city’s published plans for future economic development and requires that it promote the development of offshore fishing, according to a blueprint issued by the city’s government.

Seen by SeafoodSource, a Qingdao government document titled the “Implementation Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of a Blue Granary” promises related support policies to support the development of “large-tonnage, high-power steel boats” and also promises to fund a “multi-channel marketing campaign” to draw investors to local fishing firms targeting the high seas.

A government document titled “Views on the Acceleration of Development of Long Distance Fishing Industry” seems designed as much to expand the presence of local pelagic firms in far-off waters as much as to ramp up processing of those catches in Qingdao. Published by the city’s Ocean & Fisheries Bureau, the document also calls on fisheries firms to support a Qingdao Aquatic Trade and Logistics Center Project (also known as the North China International Seafood Logistics Centre), a blueprint which would make Qingdao the largest seafood processing and trading hub in northeast Asia. The center aims to handle 3 million MT of seafood annually, worth CNY 54 billion (USD 8.7 billion; EUR 7.9 billion).

To achieve their goals, Qingdao officials have listed a series of species and locations to be particular targets for local firms: Tuna resources in the Midwest Pacific and Indian Ocean are singled out, as well as squid in the southeast Pacific and the Southwest Atlantic.


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