Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mainland China: The "Real China aquaculture experience"

Matt Thompson is a senior aquaculture specialist with the Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Programs (SSP). He is blogging from the Seafood Summit in Hong Kong. The Seafood Summit brings all those concerned with sustainable seafood together in a conference to identify challenges and look for solutions.  

With the Summit officially over, I moved on to the second phase of my visit to Asia—the “real China aquaculture experience.” Arranged by the Seafood Summit team, myself and nearly 30 others boarded a coach to mainland China. Our first stop was the Huangsha Live Seafood Market, in Guangdong Province in the South of China. 

Here, all sorts of freshwater and marine life is bought and sold live to the public, restaurants and further distributors who move the fish around the country. The streets around the market were vibrant, with trucks moving constantly to unload live fish and shrimp into boxes and then hastily deposited in the waiting tanks in the shops.

There wasn’t a sense that there was much awareness of the seafood on display’s sustainability and I saw very few signs to this effect, though some ocean-friendly options like farmed oysters were present there were also a number of potentially more challenged species next to them also available for purchase.

As we moved deeper into the market, there were more and more surprises—including octopus, snakes, sea urchins, and a type of beetle—all available live for the customer (but not for me, I’m not that adventurous!).

It’s clear that the Chinese love their seafood, but there is a need for better information about the status of the fisheries and aquaculture that they enjoy so much. The more sustainability conscious they become, the more they will be able to drive improvements with their buying power.


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