New data indicates big jump in China distant-water catch

A Chinese region that is home to a significant portion of the country’s distant-water fishing effort is reporting a bumper start to 2020, even as the catch in domestic waters is being cut for conservation.

A new document from the Fujian Ocean and Fisheries Bureau provides catch data from the south-easterly province, where many Chinese vessels that fish in West Africa and in Latin America are based. 

“Thanks to the renewal and transformation of ocean fishing vessels and the support of ocean fishing policies, ocean fishing output in the first half of the year was 216,900 tons, a year-on-year increase of 25.8 percent,” the document said.

Growth in Fujian’s distant-water catch was well ahead of overall growth in the provincial seafood output for the first six months of the year. The province’s total seafood output in the first half of 2020 totaled 4.1 million tons, according to the Fujian Ocean and Fisheries Bureau – up 4.1 percent in volume terms and up 3.7 percent in value terms to CNY 60.4 billion (USD 8.45 billion, EUR 7.2 billion).

The bureau’s document praises efforts to strengthen the conservation of marine fishery resources in domestic waters, with the domestic catch total down 5.47 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2020. Output of seawater and freshwater aquaculture rose by 5.02 percent and 3.58 percent, respectively.

Fujian’s data showing an upsurge in distant-water catches matches similar data from Zhejiang, another hub of the Chinese distant-water fleet. A document from the Zhejiang agriculture bureau published last week suggests that 220 distant-water vessels from the leading fishing port of Zhoushan landed 74,900 tons in the first half of the year, up 15.7 percent on the same period last year. Fishery output for the province of Zhejiang rose by 17.1 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2020, according to the provincial Agriculture Ministry.

The data from both regions seems to suggest a sustained increase in China’s distant-water catch, in large part thanks to government support. Last week, one major port in Fujian announced subsidies for local companies setting up fishing bases and aquaculture facilities in other countries. Under the new policy issued by the port city of Xiamen, local firms can claim 10 percent of the costs of building fishing and aquaculture facilities abroad, up to the end of 2023. The subsidy is detailed in a new document published jointly by the Municipal Finance Bureau and the Bureau of Ocean Development, both units of the city government.

One of the larger distant-water firms from Fujian is Fuzhou Hong Dong Yuan Yang Fishing Co., a firm best-known for its project in Mauritania and with stated ambitions to build its presence across West Africa and Latin America. Company chairman Lan Ping Zhong is a delegate to the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, which meets each March.

Photo courtesy of mayday6510/Shutterstock


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