An early Shenlan cage. The latest version can hold 1 million fish and will be used 130 miles offshore. Photo: Wuchang Shipbuilding.

China plans salmon farm 130 miles from shore

China has launched a project to grow 45,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon annually in the cold-water mass of the Yellow Sea to cater to growing domestic demand, the country’s Xinhua news agency has reported.

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The project will build a salmon farm about 130 nautical miles off the shore of Rizhao in east China’s Shandong Province, said Dong Shuanglin, a professor at the Ocean University of China and the project’s chief scientist.

Initiated by the university and two Chinese firms, the project involves a total investment of over 4.3 billion yuan (£484 million) and has demarcated a cultivation area of 3,000 hectares.

One million fish

It plans to erect the “Shenlan 2” salmon cage in the second half of this year, following a successful trial of salmon farming at “Shenlan 1,” the world’s largest fully-submersible salmon cage.

The Shenlan cage is built by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group in China’s Shandong Province and looks similar to SalMar’s Ocean Farm 1, which was constructed by the same company. The biggest difference is that the Norwegian company’s cage is not designed to fully submerge.

The Shenlan 2 cage is 80 metres high, compared with the 35m of Shenlan 1, and can accommodate one million fish, a similar amount to Ocean Farm 1 and a large increase from its predecessor’s 300,000.

Space for 500 million salmon

The project also includes the construction of an onshore industrial park, R&D facilities and a hatchery. The first batch of salmon from the farm is scheduled to hit the market by the end of 2020.

Chinese scientists have in recent years started the test rearing of salmon in the Yellow Sea’s cold-water mass, a seasonal low-temperature water body, as the country’s offshore fish farming faces a lack of space, disease outbreaks and other environmental problems.

The 13-million-hectare cold water mass in the Yellow Sea is large enough to raise 500 million salmon, and its strong self-purification means lower risks of diseases and parasite outbreaks, according to the university.