Atlantic salmon grows at a farming workshop of the Shandong Oriental Ocean Sci-Tech Co in Yantai city, Shandong province, Aug 18, 2015. (Dai Tian/China Daily)
China's salmon-lovers now have a home-grown option when it comes to their favorite fish, instead of relying on air-flown imports, as a Shandong fishery company is now catering to the booming market for salmon in China.
Shandong Oriental Ocean Sci-Tech Co, the first in the country that brought Atlantic salmon eggs home for its nursery and aquafarming, sold 400 tons of the fish in the first half of the year, said the Shenzhen-listed firm on Tuesday.
"Our current production is far short of domestic demand, and therefore we plan to ramp up our capacity step by step," said Wang Shunkui, manager of the company's subsidiary at Yantai Economy and Technology Development Zone.
The Shandong Oriental Ocean, which owns 16 farming workshops with an area of 36,800 cubic meters of water, produces about 1,000 tons of Atlantic salmon annually, whereas Chinese diners import between 30,000 to 50,000 tons in an average year, he said.
"Domestic demand is ever-growing," said Wang, adding that traditional import destinations have expanded from Norway to countries including Scotland, Chile and Iceland.
The project is among the first both at home and abroad to use recycled water for salmon aquaculture at a large scale. Such technology, known as the RAS farming system, makes full use of clean water and drops baits and disinfects automatically, according to the company.
The Atlantic salmon in Yantai city stays in fresh water for nine months before growing in seawater for another one and a half year to two years.
"Atlantic salmon is a cold-water fish, and therefore requires water below 17 degrees Celsius," said Wang, elaborating on the farming difficulties. "Yantai has rich underground water that measures between 13 and 15 degrees Celsius."
The Shandong Oriental Ocean introduced the Atlantic salmon RAS nursery system from Norway in 2010, and jointly developed the growth system with Marine Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to the company.
"Our salmon price is about the same as imports," added Wang.
Listed on the Shenzhen Stock Market in 2006, the Oriental Ocean is a fishery conglomerate covering seafood breeding, farming, cold storage and processing, as well as marine technology research.
The company posted a 27 percent decrease in net profit attributable to shareholders to 41.6 million yuan in 2014, due to fierce competition in sea cucumber farming and processing, according to its yearly report released in April.