Wake Up Dragon!


Hangzhou City Express, Hong Kong, China

A question came up to my mind recently: why people from the west tried harder to learn and care much more about the fisheries and the sustainability of seafood in China than we Chinese do.

Frankly speaking, I did not think much over the issues such as overfishing and sustainable seafood until I came here in Hong Kong participating the 10th International Seafood Summit in September 6-8.  

As a member of the fellowship program for Chinese journalists organized by the Earth Journalism Network, I have got a great opportunity to shuttle among different sessions and press briefings during the three-day summit. What I find interesting is that “China” has been mentioned much more frequently than any other countries in the world. China has become the world’s largest seafood processor. China has a dramatically increasing demand of seafood. China is going to become a much larger importer of aquaculture products. And even for this year’s seafood summit itself——is located in the Hong Kong(China)——a first for the event which has historically taken place in Europe and North America. Those all indicate that China does play an important role in today’s global seafood market but it is neither a pioneer of practicing sustainable seafood strategy nor an advocator of sustainable seafood.

Why did this happen? 

The most important reason I can think of is that we have been treating seafood only as “food” for a long time, as there is a Chinese saying goes “?????”(‘Food is god for people.’ or ‘Food is No. 1 need.’) However, this can lead to a lack of awareness of sustainability.

Ms Han Han, who is from the Chinese Tilapia Aquaculture Improvement Project, said:” Partly, this is because in sustainable fisheries area, many Western countries have gone much farer than China. Therefore, the game rule has already been set for China. It is kind of losing the right of speech.”

William Shubert from the Earth Journalism Network agrees that the West has worked on that kind of sustainable seafood certification for many years, and China was just at the beginning. However, with time going by, things have started changing now.