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Chinese production and export of large yellow croaker

Large yellow croaker (Larimichthys croceus)1 is a species of marine fish in the croaker family (Sciaenidae) native to the northwestern Pacific, generally in temperate waters such as the Taiwan Strait. Once an abundant resource off China, the Republic of Korea and Japan, its population collapsed in the 1970s due to overfishing. In 2016, global production of large yellow croaker reached 269 300 tonnes, accounted mostly by China (99 percent) and the Republic of Korea (1 percent), according to FAO Statistics. Specifically, capture production reached 103 800 tonnes and aquaculture production amounted to 165 500 tonnes. This species has been successfully farmed in China, contributing with more than half of the global output.

Production in China

Large yellow croaker farming, mainly cage culture, in China is concentrated in the eastern coastal areas of Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shandong Provinces. Fujian is the core breeding and farming area, producing more than 85 percent of the fry production. A total of 177?600 tonnes of large yellow croaker were produced in China in 2017 the Fujian Province produced 150?542 tonnes, Guangdong 12?500 tonnes and Zhejiang Province 14?600 tonnes. Farming costs include venue rental, feed, water, electricity, insurance, and labour.

Feed cost is the most significant, reaching about 70 percent of total costs in the case of this carnivorous species. Field surveys reported that the price of live feed fish and compound feed are approximately USD 0.45 per kg and USD 1.60 per kg, respectively. During the fishing ban period, established to protect ocean resources in China, farmers had to rely on compound feed and its price increased. Reducing the usage of live fish for feeding has become popular and in some areas the state even subsidizes farmers who opt for compound feed.


Large yellow croaker is mainly exported in frozen form, but fresh and chilled croaker are also observed with slight proportion. As the largest producer of large yellow croaker products globally, China has an obvious export advantage on the international market. The main importers are Hong Kong SAR, Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China. The export of large yellow croaker from China has grown some 105 percent in value over the past decade, but has decreased in volume.

China exported 39?200 tonnes of large yellow croaker in 2018, (frozen 33?100 tonnes, fresh and chilled 6?000 tonnes), primarily to Hong Kong SAR, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China. China began to export large yellow croaker products to Taiwan Province of China in 1999. After 2000, exports gradually moved to the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asian countries. In 2018, the export value reached a record high over the past decade, though the highest volume was registered in 2010. Starting in 2009, China increased its export tax rebate for primary processed aquatic products from 5 to 13 percent and for products that are further processed from 13 to 15 percent. This enabled a considerable export increase of large yellow croaker in 2010.

After 2010, the export volume has been on a downward trend, due to an unfavourable exchange rate, sluggish economic development globally, slowdown in trade liberalization, along with domestic environmental problems. Nevertheless, the export value has levelled off thanks to the relatively good price. China has been developing new cold chain technology and in 2017, China exported 2.5 tonnes of live fish to the Republic of Korea.


Although exports of large yellow croaker brought profits to enterprises and farmers in China, in recent years, high feeding cost and excessive market concentration hindered the further development of this industry. Feeding cost increased as a result of domestic inflation and fishing ban. In addition, costs of labour, drugs and land rent also have been hiking. In September 2017, the export tax rebate rate was reduced from 13 to 11 percent so traders need to pay more taxes, which aggravated the export performance of the large yellow croaker industry. Excessive concentration in the Asian market, which accounts for about 88 percent of total exports, is evident. Future development of the industry should entail diversifying of markets.