SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Shuichan News] Translated by Amy Zhong

February 10, 2017China is changing from the largest global seafood exporter to the largest global seafood importer with full government support.   This has significant implication for both fishing policy, where the government plans to restrict harvests, and for tariff policy, where the government has already reduced some seafood import tariffs and is likely to take further action in this area.

One government action is to take 20,000 fishing vessels out of commission.

China’s marine resources have been in decline with environmental pollution, overfishing, and at sea transportation and transshipment.

The Ministry of Agriculture has released two notices to improve the situation. The first one is about further strengthening the control of China’s fishing boats to better manage marine resources. The second one is about the adaptation of China’s fishing closed fishing season rules.

The country’s fishing volume of marine resources are going to contract, according to these notices. The projected decline will be to around 10 million tons in 2020. This is 3.09 million tons lower compared with the volume of 2015.

Partly this will be with a reduction of 20-thousand sea fishing boats. Fishermen can replace their old fishing boats or renovate existent boats, but they are not allowed to build or import additional fishing vessels.

Also the Ministry will expand the closed season, and strengthen to types of fishing and vessels it applies to.  The closed season starts at 12:00 am on May 1st all over China. I

This will be the first time that single-layer gill nets in the South China Sea are asked to stop working during this season. Also supporting boats such as the transport vessels used in sea fishing are also required to stop their operation during this season for the first time.

The closure is starting 2 to 4 weeks earlier, also.

The length of the closure has also been extended. The fishing off-seasons have lengthened for all kinds of fishing activities. And the fishing closure will last at least three months.

With the reduction of domestic supply, there will be a deficit in China’s seafood trading, according to the prediction of ABN AMRO Bank. And China is likely to import increasingly great quantities of seafood from other countries.

China’s has been the largest seafood exporter for several decades. And now it is likely to become the largest importer with its economic development, expansion of consumers and rising processing cost.

China is to become the largest importer of Vietnam’s basa fish. And Canadian lobsters have been flown to China by designated planes during this Chinese New Year. What’s more, its shrimp import has exceeded US$1 billion this year.

The country has the largest population and its seafood consumption per capita is higher than Europe, while it is six times that of North America. Although China’s resources per capita are scarce and its fishing activities are small-scale, it is still has been the largest seafood exporter. And its export has been larger than its import since the year of 2000.

But its annual import volume grows by more than 8%, higher than any other country. And with higher incomes, consumers have greater demand for seafood. China’s food expenditure is estimated to exceed US$500 billion by 2025 and a large proportion of the money will be spent on seafood.