Officials and experts are optimistic about the quality of the country's seafood and other aquatic products, but say they still need upgrading to be more competitive.
"People are paying more and more attention to food safety, and we are relieved to say our aquatic products are up to standard," Qi Jingfa, president of the China Fishery Association, said at the second national conference of the association held yesterday in Dalian, the coastal city in northeast China's Liaoning Province.
Qi said China has established strict monitoring systems to safeguard the whole process of seafood and other aquatic products, from cultivation to transportation.
"As the fishery resources have decreased, and environmental pollution has hindered the development of the industry, people have become more concerned about the cultivated aquatic products," Qi said.
In 2005, the total output of aquatic products reached 51 million tons in the country, and more than 60 percent of the total were cultivated, according to statistics by the Ministry of Commerce.
Water pollution, poor use of feed and medicine, and some improper measures to keep the products fresh are main factors affecting the quality of them, Qi said.
"These factors have prevented our products from further expanding into the world market, especially in European countries. They need our products, but set technical barriers at the same time," Qi said.
Qi urged enterprises to adopt the stricter standards for their products. "Our association will help the enterprises take active action in the world market, and draft regulations up to the international standards."
In Dalian, a major aquaculture base of the country, the ecological cultivation system has ensured its products are well received in the world market, said Wu Hougang, president of the Dalian Zhangzidao Fishery Group.
Located in the northern Yellow Sea, Zhangzidao has 40,000 hectares of seawater area for cultivating sea cucumber, abalone, shellfish and conch.
The aquatic products are cultivated in a non-polluted seabed in a natural environment, since feed and medicine are prohibited.
"With an annual export of US$20 million, our shellfish are well received in the United States, Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea," said Wu.
Wu said the seawater quality in the area and their production procedures exceeded the EU standard and that Zhangzidao is trying to reopen its market in European countries, which have banned imports of shellfish from China since 1997.
(China Daily April 19, 2006)