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Across China: Intelligent marine farming combines economic, ecological benefits

(Xinhua)    19:46, September 23, 2020

JINAN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Shoals of fish gather curiously around cameras in a marine farm, their actions projected onto a large LED screen together with real-time data for investors to reference as they ponder their next deals.

The farm, screen and big data technology belong to Yantai CIMC Blue Ocean Technology Co., Ltd., which is located in Yantai, a coastal city in east China's Shandong Province. They are a testament to the transformation and informatization China's fishing industry has undergone over past decades.

"In the past, we could only check the growth of fish by diving underwater, but now staff can monitor what is happening in the sea from their offices using the underwater camera system," said Li Hong, deputy general manager of the company.

Li said that hundreds of sensors installed in the farm can facilitate the collection and remote transmission of data to reflect equipment operations, feeding conditions and environmental situations.

Based on the internal system's data services, the company can share its data with fish owners, financial and insurance institutions, governmental departments and marine research institutes, in a bid to help all parties in their decision-making processes.

Since the mid-20th century, marine ecosystems in most coastal areas of Shandong have suffered disruptions due to overfishing and the deterioration of coastal environments, posing threats to fish sources.

Today, however, ocean farming technology has ushered in a new era for the modern fishing industry. The traditional fishing economy is now undergoing high-quality development.

"The old pattern of fish farming was not only time-consuming, but led to high labor costs as well. Now we only need four employees to breed 1,000 tonnes of adult fish using the platform, and the fish culture cycle is down from three years to one year," said Chen Degang, CEO of the Changdao Hongxiang Seafood Production Corporation.

Genghai No.1, a marine farm owned by the Shandong Ocean Harvest Corporation, is also making waves in the development of China's fishing industry. It is equipped with intelligent cages, featuring auto-cleaning, data collection and precise feed casting functions.

"Our company is expected to produce 150,000 kg of fish and welcome more than 50,000 tourists this year," said Wei Yan, the company's general manager.

Tourism is being integrated into the marine farming industry as more fishing companies join the sector to extend their work beyond providing people with nutritious seafood.

At Changdao's farm Changjing No.1, tourists can enjoy fishing, karaoke and specialty dishes. It takes 15 minutes for people to travel from the land to the farm, and specialized facilities create a safe and leisurable atmosphere for tourists.

"The advanced information technology allows marine farms to have multiple functions, and the road to wealth for fish farmers is widening," Chen said.

Yantai has thus far brought 30 marine farms above the provincial level, including 14 that are now at a national level, accounting for one-eighth of the total across the country. Its marine farms cover an area of more than 73,300 hectares, and the output value of its industrial chain exceeds 50 billion yuan (about 7.37 billion U.S. dollars).

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Bianji)

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