Experiences from China

By: Dawn Purchase
Date posted: 18 September 2016

I am very fortunate to find myself in Guangzhou, South East China, attending the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) GOAL conference. As part of GAA Standards Oversight Committee we are invited to attend these annual conferences as part of our role.

This year as well as attending the Committee meetings I am also speaking on a panel session on Thursday talking about innovation in aquaculture and why I think it is important for the future of aquaculture.

This conference is the highlight of my work year - meeting new people and old friends, exchanging ideas and information and hearing about the latest research and developments.

I will share more of this later but I wanted to tell you about my experience today. This morning a group of us had a 6 am tour of the local fish market, it was astonishing! A real emotional smorgasbord for me - amazement, intrigue, shock and deeply upset. 200 species sold, 210,000 tonnes a year, global imports. So much to see but the lasting impression was: How can there be any fish left in the sea when you see them sold in these volumes on a daily basis? Bearing in mind this is just one market in one city in one country.

Aquaculture

Busy seafood market at 6 am, 6000 people employed!

Aquaculture

A small selection of the 200 species on sale

I then went on to visit the Chinese medicine market,

I can now see where the 100 million sharks we catch every year go - dried shark fins abound.

Aquaculture

Chinese traditional medicine, note the dried shark fins on the shelf.

The ups and downs of this work - some days I feel I am making a lasting difference, today I feel hopeless and helpless when faced with such evidence of man’s exploitation of the oceans I love.