China's first deep-sea fish farming facility－Shenlan 1. （Photo/China Daily）
China's first deep-sea fish farming facility, Shenlan 1, will be put into use later this month for salmon cultivation in the Yellow Sea, which will enable the country to achieve large-scale breeding of fish in the warm open seas.
The submersible aquaculture facility can dive to a depth of 50 meters and is able to rise or descend according to ambient water temperature, said Chen Qing, head of Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Co, the facility's maker.
"It's the first such underwater aquaculture facility in the world," Chen said on Friday, adding that Shenlan 1 adopts some military submarine technology.
Wang Yu, chief designer of Shenlan 1, said the success of the project will make China the first country to breed salmon on a large scale in open, warm water.
He said the coastal waters of China are warm and not suitable for breeding of coldwater fish, but there is a mass of cold water－roughly 500 billion cubic meters－in the middle and bottom area of the Yellow Sea.
"The huge (area of) water, with good quality, is suitable for the cultivation of cold-water fish, especially salmon. But it's far from the coast and deep, so exploitation has remained a dream for fish farmers," Wang said.
In recent years, China has had a fast-growing appetite for fresh salmon. Research results issued last year by Netherlands-based Rabobank showed that China consumed 100,000 metric tons of salmon in 2016, with an expected growth rate of 25 percent the following year.
Wang Ning, general manager of Wanzefeng Fishery Co, an enterprise in Rizhao, Shandong province, that plans to use the facility to breed salmon, said China currently imports most of its salmon to satisfy the demand.
"The big risks of deep-sea aquaculture are bad weather and the invasion of sea beasts, but the fully submersible container－made of high-tech materials－is very stable and helps create a suitable and safe environment for nurturing salmon to maturity," he said.
The equipment will be deployed about 130 nautical miles east of Rizhao in the Yellow Sea later this month, depending on weather conditions, said Wang.
The cylindrical apparatus can raise about 300,000 salmon in one growth cycle, with the fish spending around a year in Shenlan 1, having a targeted production of 1,500 metric tons, he said.
Wang said that when individual fish reach 5 kilograms, they will be ready for sale in the Chinese domestic market. From the end of this year until April next year is expected to be the harvest time, he added.
"Salmon is a high-value-added cold-water fish. If it is successful this time, we plan to buy more facilities to raise salmon and other fish with high economic value, including coalfish, to satisfy foodies in China," Wang said.