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Fishermen Seek Help Pushing Milkfish In China

by the Fish Site Editor
14 September 2011, at 1:00am

TAIWAN - Fishermen in Greater Tainan recently expressed their hope that the government would help increase the marketing of Taiwanese milkfish in China as they seek to move into the Chinese market.

TaipeiTimes reports that to facilitate the export of milkfish to China, they were included in the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreements (ECFA) early harvest list, which provides a preferential tariffs.

In a deal brokered by Greater Tainans Cross-strait Economics, Trade and Cultural Development Association, Chinas Shanghai Fisheries General Corp in March agreed to buy milkfish from Syuejia District fishermen.

Under the contract, each of the 100 fishermen will provide 18,000kg of milkfish at a guarantee purchase price of NT$27 a kilogram, equating to 1,800 tonnes of milkfish sold to the Chinese market by the end of the year.

Association president Wang Wen-tsung said the average production cost for milkfish is about NT$21 a kilogram, although the transaction price by milkfish ponds is usually between NT$18 and NT$24.

Winning a contract that guarantees a purchase price is the best way to protect fishermens livelihood, he said.

Several fishermen attended a ceremony to mark the first shipment of 24 tonnes of milkfish to China on 25 August.

A fisherman said it was the first time in more than 30 years that his milkfish farm had the opportunity to be part of a large-scale aquaculture contract.

I dont have to worry about getting a good price after harvest, Mr Hsieh said, adding that he can now focus on producing high-quality milkfish.

Mr Wang said the milkfish products listed on the ECFAs early harvest list are unprocessed whole fish and frozen fillets, adding that once tariffs are reduced to zero, Taiwanese milkfish will be even more competitive in the Chinese market.

However, it remains to be seen whether Chinese consumers will like the milkfish, Mr Wang said, adding that market demand would be key to whether Greater Tainan fishermen have their contract renewed next year.

Wang Chang-hao, president of the municipalitys Aquaculture Development Association, said about 20 per cent of the milkfish cultivated in Greater Tainan are exported to the US, the Middle East and Europe. If we can pry open the Chinese market and ink another contract, then supply pressures during peak season will ease, he said.

Taiwans advantage lies in the high quality and safety of it aquaculture, Wang Chang-hao said, and if the nation manages to develop a group of loyal customers, the future for the industry would be bright.

However, since most Chinese people are not familiar with milkfish, the fishermen need more government assistance to promote their product ... There should be lots of milkfish tasting events to woo consumers. We should even get a Chinese celebrity to promote milkfish, he said.

the Fish Site Editor