By Gao Fu Mao, Contributing Editor reporting from Beijing, China
Published on Thursday, February 23, 2017
One of China’s biggest fishing companies is pledging to overcome shortages in global fishing stocks by buying fishery companies in the Americas.
Yu Yang, the chief financial officer of Pingtan Marine, a U.S.-listed firm with trawlers and other shipbuilding enterprises, said in a surprisingly frank interview with a Chinese government-run news site that his company was pursuing acquisitions in North and South America.
Yu said that rising Chinese incomes will create huge demand for seafood into the future, but that domestic worries over food safety is encouraging his company to pursue “deep sea,” rather than aquaculture products.
“There is an awareness [among consumers] of pollution, antibiotics and hormones… this means that deep sea seafood products will have a lot of room for growth,” Yu said.
In addition, Yu said China’s government is increasingly keen to protect its domestic waters and environments, and he predicted that it will seek to limit fishing licenses in the future.
“That is why we look to mergers and acquisitions to guarantee our supply,” Yu said.
Currenly, Pingtan’s overseas fleet consists of 13 fishing boats operating in East Timorese waters, 12 vessels operating in the Bay of Bengal; six fishing vessels on the high seas of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, and a handful of licenses to fish the Arafura Sea in Indonesia.
In describing his company’s future plans, Yu said it planned to build a processing an ambitious “industry chain,” with fishing as well as processing and distribution operations across China. It’s also planning to launch and market its own seafood brands. He pointed to an industrial zone the company is developing in the Pingtan region of Fujian Province, in southeast China, as the first step in this plan.
Despite the fact that the central government in Beijing is often shy about disclosing its support to fisheries, Yu acknowledged that Pingtan receives government subsidies for to operate its long-distance fleet. He praised China’s “support and subsidies” for fishing companies operating in international waters and for the shipbuilding industry, arguing that the support helps guarantee traceability, food safety and a healthy and bountiful food source for more Chinese housholds.
“We want to ensure that domestic consumer tables have an adequate seafood supply, but also allows consumers to have a wider range of deep-water seafood,” Yu said.
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