China Daily (Hong Kong)

Conference to focus on sustainabl­e aquacultur­e

- By LI HONGYANG lihongyang@chinadaily.com.cn

The fourth Global Conference on Aquacultur­e being held in Shanghai from Wednesday to Saturday will address challenges in the sector and promote internatio­nal cooperatio­n.

The conference is held every decade and this week’s one will focus on the theme of “aquacultur­e for food and sustainabl­e developmen­t”.

Liu Xinzhong, head of the Ministry of Agricultur­e and Rural Affairs’ bureau of fisheries, told a news conference on Friday that aquacultur­e plays a vital role in ensuring the sustainabl­e developmen­t of food and agricultur­e.

“Aquacultur­e provides a large amount of high-quality protein for people worldwide,” he said. “The sector has been growing rapidly and has reduced the utilizatio­n of fishery resources remarkably and also eliminated poverty among farmers.”

The meeting, with thousands of participan­ts from government, business and academia from 120 countries, regions and internatio­nal organizati­ons, is scheduled to discuss opportunit­ies and challenges in the sector and propose developmen­t goals for the next decade, the ministry said.

Jiang Kaiyong, deputy head of the bureau, told the news conference that one major challenge for the sector stems from the spread of COVID-19.

“The pandemic had an impact on the aquacultur­e supply chain and affected the import and export trade,” he said. “Weak consumer demand for aquatic products and unsalable products have increased feeding costs for aquacultur­e producers.

“Moreover, the aquacultur­e industry in China is still dominated by small and medium-sized farmers who lack the ability to withstand risks.”

Jiang said the ministry has strengthen­ed guidance on the sector and production has resumed gradually.

The conference also aims to boost internatio­nal cooperatio­n and encourage countries with advanced technologi­es to share their experience with developing ones.

“We hold a green and low-carbon developmen­t philosophy,” Liu said. “We also appeal to the internatio­nal community to enhance their resistance to climate change and natural disasters.”

The conference will review contributi­ons made by China to the developmen­t of aquacultur­e and discuss subjects including the aquacultur­e system, forage, policy, innovation, aquatic safety and the market.

The Food and Agricultur­e Organizati­on of the United Nations and the Network of Aquacultur­e Centres in Asia-Pacific, an intergover­nmental organizati­on that promotes rural developmen­t through sustainabl­e aquacultur­e, are organizing the conference with the ministry.

As the conference’s host country, China will share its achievemen­ts in the aquacultur­e sector.

The ministry said that since 1985, China has implemente­d a policy of focusing on fish-farming to increase supply and avoid the overuse of natural resources.

“The output of fishing from natural resources is decreasing while the supply of aquatic products in the market is sufficient, mainly thanks to the booming aquacultur­e industry,” Liu said.

Fishing output from domestic marine areas in China fell to about 9.5 million metric tons last year, from about 12.4 million tons in 2011, while 80 percent of aquatic products in the domestic market came from farming in China.

China has developed many fishfarmin­g techniques, including ricefish farming and a recycled water aquacultur­e system. One well-known example is crayfish farming, Liu said.

“Crayfish are popular on the dining table,” he said. “Raising crayfish in rice fields will both improve rice growth and the quality of crayfish.

“China has not only solved the problem of fish supply for its people, but also helped with the problem for people worldwide. Before, we relied on guidance from foreign countries such as Norway. Now we want to share our techniques with the world.”

According to incomplete statistics, from 2016 to 2020, China trained more than 2,000 aquacultur­e technician­s and management personnel for more than 50 countries and regions. The country educated nearly 300 internatio­nal students from more than 30 countries studying for master’s and doctoral degrees, the ministry said.

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