Challenges in China’s Finfish Farming

Dr Niels Alsted, Business Relations and Technical Director, BioMar Group A/S, Denmark

China has a very long tradition of culturing fish. The country has the largest aquaculture production in the world, with more than 100 species in production. Fish farming in China, however, is still based on many small family units in rural conditions. New technologies were recently introduced and have been implemented in relatively few places. The very traditional way of farming still dominates. With the impressive growth in almost all sectors, the aquaculture sector’s demand for water and space is huge. In terms of volume, farming is still dominated by the cyprinids, but farming of other species like bass, pomfret and croaker is growing, based on demand from a growing well-to-do population. This development requires the use of new technology in farming, such as recirculation aquaculture systems, and efficient feed and more professionalism in the sector.

The demand for safe and sustainably produced fish requires new types of feeds where performance is more important than feed price per kg and where discharge of nutrients is included in the formulation. For these growing species, there is still huge potential in China just by changing from trash fish to formulated diets. This will require more enforced regulation around food safety, the environmental footprint and a more transparent chain from raw material all the way to the consumer. China is on the way and will make it and there is no other alternative.