Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

Development and Prospect of the Chinese Fisheries

Jian Yang


The Third World Fisheries Congress is ceremoniously opened today. Fishery officials and experts from around the world gather to exchange academic views, present technical achievements, and project the blueprint of future world fisheries. All these will surely play an active role in the sustainable development of world fisheries in the new millennium. I wish the congress a complete success.

I am very honored to be given this opportunity to brief you on the development of Chinese fisheries on behalf of Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. Chinese fisheries development enjoys a long history that has made its due contribution to world fisheries. The founding of the People’s Republic of China ushered in a new era for Chinese fisheries. Particularly since 1978, when the reform and opening- up policy were introduced, the Chinese government has adjusted the guidelines and policies for fisheries development based on national conditions and changing fishery resources. As a result, the enthusiasm and creativity of fishers and farmers were high, which quickly ushered along the Chinese fisheries and brought about outstanding achievements. Comprehensive fishery productivity was notably enhanced, and fishery product output increased, reaching 41.22 million tons in 1999— more than seven times greater than in 1978—ranking the first in the world for the decade. Within this total, aquaculture production reached 23.96 million tons, 14.5 times more than in 1978. The proportion of aquaculture production in fishery production increased from 26% to 58%, making China the only country in the world that has more aquaculture than fishing. Fishery products per capita increased each year, from 4.8 kg in 1978 to 32.7 kg in 1999, exceeding the world average. Meanwhile, the proportion of output value of total fisheries in total agricultural output value also increased, from 1.6% in 1978 to 10.3% in 1999. The foreign trade of fishery products witnessed robust growth, which registered 2.6532 million tons in 1999, with a total value of US$4.43 billion. Of this total, the export volume was 1.348 million tons, valued at $3.14 billion. These figures reflect increases of 13.6 times and 11 times 1978 volumes, respectively. The annual increases were 13.6% and 12.6%, respectively. At present, the Chinese fisheries have developed to encompass aquaculture, fishing, processing, distribution, and the fishery industry as well as scientific research and education.

Fishery products are a main source of protein in the human food supply and in the food supply of Chinese citizens. Fisheries development plays an active role in diversifying the farm produce market, raising the standard of living, improving the food supply, and enhancing health. Especially in recent years, the status and functions of fisheries have increased dramatically in the national economy. Fisheries development has become a new growth point in the rural economy that has demonstrated its pivotal contribution in adjusting and optimizing agricultural structure, increasing farmers’ income, and promoting rural economy.

Fisheries development has facilitated a flourishing and stable market. Aquatic products have long been favored by Chinese consumers because of their delicious taste and rich nutrition. Because of the historically low level of fishery productivity, the slow increase in fishery production could hardly meet market demand. A shortage of fish was a potential problem for Chinese citizens. In the 1980s, the fishery product market was entirely opened, and aquaculture was prioritized in fisheries development. As a result, fisheries productivity was highly liberated, fisheries production greatly increased, product varieties diversified, and product freshness and quality improved significantly. At present, the supply of Chinese fisheries products is adequate, the market is flourishing, prices are stable, and purchases and sales are robust. Chinese consumers have free choice of various fishery products.