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Qingdao ramps up innovation in marine industry

By XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong | (China Daily) | 2022-04-19

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Employees ready salmon harvested from the Shenlan 1 deep-sea fish farming facility for sale in Qingdao, Shandong province, in June. [Photo by Yu Fangping/For China Daily]

With an annual large yellow croaker production capacity of 3,700 metric tons, China's first 100,000-ton fish farming "smart "ship, is expected to start operations next month.

With undocking and launching missions completed in January in Qingdao, Shandong province, the ship has 15 farming cabins providing 80,000 cubic meters of water for the high-end commercial fish, with a water body displacement of 130,000 tons.

The ship, coded Conson No 1, was another major project featuring the local government's efforts of tapping into the aquaculture market, after Shenlan 1, China's first deep-sea fish farming facility, harvested its first batch of cultivated salmon in June in the Yellow Sea.

With the benefits of bringing more domestically bred products to shelves, developing deep-sea aquaculture has been repeatedly highlighted as part of a development plan for the marine industry by the city's top meetings.

"Qingdao will take the lead in building a modern marine city, focusing on world-class ports, a well-established modern marine industrial system and a sustainable marine environment," said Lu Zhiyuan, Party chief of Qingdao, during the 13th Qingdao Municipal Congress of the Communist Party of China.

The congress, held from April 8 to 11, outlined the blueprint for the next five years and beyond for Qingdao-a coastal city that is home to 30 percent of China's academicians in marine science, 40 percent of the nation's high-end marine research facilities and half of China's world-leading marine technologies.

The city's advantages in the marine industry could turn into economic profitability and research prowess, with continuous improvement among worldwide marine hubs in the future, Lu said.

According to a guideline by Qingdao's marine development bureau on April 11, by the end of 2025, the average annual increase of Qingdao's marine GDP is expected to reach 7 percent, and the value-added of strategic and emerging marine sectors to increase 8 percent or above annually.

Last year, the city registered a marine GDP of 468.48 billion yuan ($73.34 billion), an increase of 17.1 percent year-on-year, taking more than 30 percent of its total, third only to Shanghai and Tianjin and was followed by Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Guangdong province.

Qi Yongzhan, vice-director of the marine development bureau, said major tasks and projects are high on the agenda to promote Qingdao's marine sectors in the future.

"According to the guideline, there will be five centers built to support marine development in the city, covering scientific and technological innovation, shipping finance, modern marine industry, ecological demonstration and international communication.

"The city has been making great efforts to improve innovation ability in marine science, ranging from platform construction, major projects, collaboration innovation and talent," Qi said.

So far, two top institutes to this end-the Center for Ocean Mega-Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Institute of Ocean Engineering (Qingdao)-have started operations, he said.

Research and development work is also being carried out in the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Qingdao) to help the city further its marine efforts.

"We are also inviting other major national-level deep-sea platforms, covering gene banks, a big data center and an ocean specimen and sample repository, to come to the city to further marine development," Qi added.