Construction of China’s first tropical sea ranch has begun in Sanya city, the southernmost point of China’s only tropical island province, Hainan.
Through rearing fish and shellfish under artificially controlled conditions, the sea ranch project aims to increase fishery resources, speed up the recovery of depleted stocks, and improve the local marine ecology.
Construction of the ranch began last Tuesday, said Duan Deyu, Deputy Director of the Sanya Ocean and Fisheries Bureau.
The project is located at Wuzhizhou Island Resort on the coast of Sanya City and has been funded by an initial investment of 20 million Yuan (AUD$2.877 million) from Hainan Sea-View Paradise.
By its completion, the ranch will consist of approximately 18,000 cubic metres of artificial reefs. An audio system will also be installed to attract and manage tropical fish.
Over fishing and degradation of marine ecosystems has meant that many of the world’s fisheries have suffered. Aquaculture technology, such as sea ranches, is a response to the crisis, aiming to produce many species en masse and to speed up the recovery of stocks that have been hit the hardest.
The sea ranch technology was first developed by Japan in the 1970s and has since been used worldwide to attempt to increase marine breeding and releasing.
Sea ranch technology was a major theme at the fourth International Symposium on Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching (ISSESR), which was hosted by China this year, with the fifth scheduled to take place in Sydney.
The Symposium included scientists and members from the national fisheries agency, and was hosted by the Shanghai Ocean University in China in conjunction with the 9th Asian Fisheries and Aquaculture Forum.
The sea ranch in Sanya is the first of its kind in China, and the local government of Sanya City has expressed hopes that it will be followed by eight more within the next decade. Investments of approximately 265 million yuan (AUD$38 million) will be required to further these developments.
In 2010 China’s government announced plans to raise Hainan province to the status of an international tourism destination by 2020. The last year has seen rapid developments and investments on the island in the tourism and travel industry.
The Sanya Sea Ranch is also expected to attract substantial numbers of tourists who are interested in the local marine ecology and sustainable fishing practices.
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