A major Chinese fishery firm has sent eight large new trawlers to Morocco to target octopus and other species, according to the state-owned firm.
The new vessels, launched by state owned China Aquatic Products Zhoushan Marine Fisheries Corp (also known as ZhouYu), left the company’s docks in Zhoushan the week of 9 December, led by the “Zhou Yu 922.”
The company, which sells seafood products in China under the Mingzhu brand, originally made its name as a supplier to the lucrative Japanese market, but has since turned its focus to the domestic China market.
The Zhouyu trawlers will further bolster China’s move into what was once a preserve of the Spanish fleet. Octopus, popular in the Spanish seafood diet, has been harder to find as both Mauritania and Morocco have given additional access rights to Chinese vessels. Other Chinese players in Morocco include Shanghai Fisheries General Corp (SFGCG) and CNFC Overseas Fishery Co Ltd.
Nonetheless, earlier this year the European Union signed a new four-year fishery access deal with Morocco which commits EUR 208 million (USD 231.5 million) in exchange for access for 128 European vessels, of which 92 are Spanish.
Morocco has increasingly relied on Chinese training and investment as the North African state seeks to build up its mariculture sector. Chinese technical know-how in aquaculture and solar energy (for lighting fishing facilities and ports) were discussed when the Moroccan official charged with marine fisheries, Mbarka Bouaida met last year with Wang Luming, deputy mayor of Qingdao, a major Chinese port city and seafood processing hub.
Also in Zhoushan in early December, the Panama-registered “Chang Men” reefer unloaded 6,800 tons of tuna from the Marshall Islands, according to a report on the city TV channel. Located in Zhejiang province on China’s east coas,t Zhoushan has long been a base for China’s fishing fleets, but in recent years local authorities have also sought to increase the presence of the city’s fishing firms in international waters, as commercial fishing in domestic waters has been rendered unprofitable due to overfishing.
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