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China's Aquaculture Industry Print E-mail

China’s Aquaculture Industry

The People’s Republic of China accounts for one-third of the world’s fish production, and two-thirds of the world’s aquaculture production. Their principle producing regions are close to their urban markets in Yangtze valley and the Zhu Jiang delta. With a coastline extending 14,500 km with a broad continental shelf, China has excellent coastal fisheries.  Since 2002, China has been the world leader in exportation of fish and fish products. Global consumption, per capita, of fish has been estimated at approximately 16.5 kg, with Chinese consumption at 25.8kg per person. Over the years, China’s fishing industry has evolved from inshore fishing to offshore fishing, posing many challenges as well as opportunities in this nation.

The development of China’s Aquaculture industry has created many job opportunities for both men and women. Since 2003, there has been more than 5 million people working full time in this sector. Most of China’s aquaculture farms are privately or collectively owned, however, there are still a few small-scale and family-based fish farms that still operate today. 

There are approximately 50 different commercially important fish species cultured in China today. The most common of these species includes: carp, Chinese bream, and blunt-snout bream. The approximate share of cultured species of freshwater aquaculture production is as follows:



Silver carp and bighead carp


Grass carp


Common carp


Crucian carp




Chinese river crab, giant prawn and soft-shelled turtle


Chinese bream and blunt-snout bream


Black carp




China is the leading exporter of fish in the world. In terms of importation, they rank sixth overall. Over the last few years, China has had to increase the amount of fish imported in order to meet the demands of the market. It is approximated that China exports a total of about $10 billion US worth of fish yearly while imports are estimated at $4 billion US.
One of the biggest issues facing China’s fishing industry is overfishing. The seas off northeast China have been severely overfished, causing wildlife such sardines to largely disappear. This loss of wildlife directly contributes to the increasing amount of fish imported into China each year. 
While overfishing has proved to be quite the problem for China’s fish market, they have also experienced difficulty in fish farming. When farming seafood, little concern for the environment is given. Many of China’s wild stocks in coastal areas have disappeared due to depleted grain supplies and deprived breeding grounds. To make matters worse, unconsumed feed and fish excrements from the farms have been proven to be one of the leading causes of pollution in China’s coastal areas and waterways. These unsanitary conditions become a breeding ground for disease and the fish are quickly affected. China’s fish products have been rejected for trade multiple times due to: salmonella, unsafe additives, unapproved drugs and improper labelling.
                                                                                  Chinese fishing boat   
                                                                                  Chinese fisherman
Source: FAO. © 2006-2012. National Aquaculture Sector Overview. China. National Aquaculture Sector Overview Fact Sheets. Text by Shuping, C. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 1 February 2005. [Cited 24 October 2012].

If you or your company is interested in getting involved with China’s aquaculture industry or want to export your aquaculture products, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . The CCAgr can act as your intercontinental business development team or as corporate consultants to assist your organization in finding the best solutions to your challenges and in developing strategies to meet your organization’s goals.