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China’s Role in Global Fisheries Sustainability

January 14, 2015
Estimated potential of fishmeal and oil production from China’s fish-processing industry.

Estimated potential of fishmeal and oil production from China’s fish-processing industry. From here.

Thanks to World Fishing & Aquaculture for highlighting a new article in Science on the impact China has on global fisheries.

Here are a couple good quotes from the article:

One of the researchers, Wenbo Zhang, conducted the research whilst completing his PhD at the University’s internationally renowned Institute of Aquaculture. He said: “Our research shows that so significant is China’s impact on the world’s seafood supply chain – the future availability of global seafood will be dependent on how China develops its aquaculture and aqua feeds sector.”

The researchers said that one promising solution is to recycle the waste by-products from seafood processing plants across China. This waste, which can be 30-70% of the incoming volume of fish, is often discarded or discharged into nearby waters. Their analysis showed that these processing wastes could satisfy between half and two-thirds of the current volume of fishmeal used by Chinese fish farmers, replacing much of the wild fish currently used in feeds.

A few excerpts from the original article:

China is the world’s largest producer, consumer, processor, and exporter of finfish and shellfish (defined here as “fish”), and its fish imports are steadily rising ( 1– 3). China produces more than one-third of the global fish supply, largely from its ever-expanding aquaculture sector, as most of its domestic fisheries are overexploited ( 3– 6). Aquaculture accounts for ~72% of its reported domestic fish production, and China alone contributes >60% of global aquaculture volume and roughly half of global aquaculture value ( 1, 3)…

Fish farming remains a highly diverse industry in China and is influenced by a variety of government directives and policies (SM). More than 100 freshwater and 60 marine fish species are raised in habitats and infrastructures that include ponds, cages in lakes and coastal waters, and raft and bottom-sowing systems in shallow seas and mud flats ( 2, 3). Carps in polyculture, tilapia in monoculture and polyculture, and penaeid shrimp in monoculture are three of the largest subsectors,
constituting over half of China’s total aquaculture production by volume (see the table). In 2012, China produced >90% of the world’s carp, 50% of global penaeid shrimp, and 40% of global tilapia ( 3). All of these species, with the exception of filter-feeding carps, rely on formulated feeds.

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