China is one of the biggest shrimp-producing countries in the world. At the same time, it also has the highest shrimp consumption after the United States and Japan. To meet their shrimp consumption demand, China imports shrimp from other countries.
China has witnessed shrimp cultivation since the 1970s. Started out with only 1,300 hectares of farm area in 1978, the number has increased to 300,000 hectares in 2011. Vannamei shrimp was first introduced to China in 1988.
Before 1995, Fenneropenaeus chinensis was the prominent shrimp species in China, with a production reaching 40,000 tons in 1979. After vannamei shrimp was introduced, overall shrimp production in China kept increasing.
Shrimp production in China (Source: Meng et al., 2015)
Large-scale shrimp cultivation development occurred in the 2000s. However, there was a period of shrimp market saturation and the entry of other species, causing the vannamei shrimp trend to slow down.
The main regions for vannamei shrimp cultivation are in the southern coastal areas such as Fujian, Guangdong, Shandong, and Hainan province. These provinces contribute to over 90% of national shrimp production. The development of shrimp cultivation is followed by the rise of related industries such as hatcheries, broodstocks, feed, health, processing, and transport.
In 2015, China’s shrimp cultivation production reached 1.8 million tons. China also faced a surge in domestic production demands, causing its export numbers to decrease as a majority of the production is used to fulfill domestic demands.
The increase in domestic market demands in China drove shrimp industry players to come up with strategies to increase harvest and overall productivity. At the same time, they are also faced with the dilemma of having to balance productivity with sustainability aspects. This was overseen by China’s central and local governments, who imposed stricter environmental regulations.
Now, China’s shrimp production aims to comply with the regulations of minimizing water pollution. One of the main issues is overstocking, which disrupts the balance of coastal environments. China’s government urged farmers to implement better layouts and management.
The increased standards of China’s government for shrimp industry players cause a decrease in the fulfillment of domestic supplies, and China has to seek out other producers such as Vietnam and Ecuador.
The efforts from China’s government to implement stricter farm operational regulations which considers both social and environmental aspects are a valuable lesson for shrimp cultivation farmers in Indonesia. Despite increasing shrimp demand, industry players should keep in mind that a balance in the environment must be maintained. This is especially important to create a more sustainable shrimp industry.
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