Qinghai salmon producers grow on youth appeal, government subsidies

An inland province in remote westerly China is reaching out to young urbanites as it grows its cold-water trout output.

Qinghai’s cold-water trout – it is controversially marketed as “salmon” – has achieved greater market penetration in China in recent years. The region’s trout output in 2019 rose 3.37 percent in volume terms to 15,200 metric tons (MT) while rising 12.9 percent in value to CNY 836 million (USD 117 million, EUR 108 million), according to data provided to SeafoodSource by the Qinghai Salmon Producers Alliance, a group of producers, distributors and government officials.

Addressing a meeting in Xining city recently, the alliance’s secretary general, Yang Xu, thanked local government support for helping with the delivery of 6.4 million fingerlings to farmers in 2019, at an average cost of CNY 1.00 (USD 0.14, EUR 0.13) per fingerling – half the market rate, according to Yang.

Local government has also allowed producers to use regional hydropower stations to raise seedlings. Speaking at the meeting, Xu Haifu, head of fisheries at the Qinghai provincial offices of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said local government sees the aquaculture sector as key to its poverty alleviation efforts.

The Qinghai Salmon Alliance markets the fish under the “Long Yang Xia – the name of a lake-land area popular with tourists in China. A key corporate player behind the Qinghai trout/salmon drive is Minze Longyang Xia Ecological Aquaculture Co., which in 2019 attracted national attention by co-organizing a trail running adventure race for athletes from across the country. Participating athletes were pictured on regional TV feasting on the local fish at a post-race barbeque. Tapping the Chinese market appears to be a rising priority for the alliance, which has in the past exported to South Korea, Japan, Russia, and the European Union.

However, distributors of imported salmon have protested the use of the term “salmon” by Qinghai producers, whose main product is trout (salmo playtcephalus). A mini-scandal was sparked unintentionally in 2018 by the national broadcaster CCTV when it ran an upbeat report on its business channel on the success of “salmon” producers in remote Qinghai, at the foot of the Himalayas. The region of Qinghai produces 30 percent of China’s overall salmon output, according to data collected by the Chinese agricultural ministry’s office in Qinghai.

Photo courtesy of Minze Longyang Xia Ecological Aquaculture Co.


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