Aquaculture for all

Guolian becomes world's first ASC certified crayfish farm

Crayfish Certification +3 more

Guolian (Yiyang) Crayfish Breeding Biotechnology Co, which is located in China, recently became the first crayfish farm in the world to earn ASC certification for responsible seafood farming.

men holding boxes of crayfish
Guolian produces 2,000 tonnes of red swamp crayfish a year

The farm is located on the Guolian (Yiyang) Crayfish Breeding Scientific Research Base, in the city of Yiyang, in Hunan Province. The 850-hectare research base is an industry, academia and research collaboration between Guolian and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. The farm’s annual capacity is 2,000 tonnes of red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii).

“We’re proud to be the first ASC certified crayfish farm in the world,” said Chen Han, president of Guolian Aquaculture Group, in a press release. “ASC certification is an internationally renowned and highly recognised gold standard in the aquaculture industry. Obtaining it is a full validation of Guolian’s active efforts to transform and improve crayfish farming.”

Major transformations to achieve ASC certification

“In order to achieve ASC certification, we changed our farming practices in several ways," said Dr Li Changbin, technical director of Guolian’s Crayfish Breeding Scientific Research Base. "To meet the requirements of the ASC standard, we faced major technical challenges - for instance, in the selection of seeds and with escape management. At the same time we’ve met the other requirements, such as for water quality, disease prevention and control, and feed."

The ASC Shrimp Standard, which also includes crayfish - or more specifically, species under the genera Macrobrachium, Cherax, Procambarus, Astacus and Penaeus - requires traceability of juvenile crayfish, to ensure those used on the farm come from high-quality stock. If the quality of seed crayfish is poor and the survival rate is too low, it cannot meet the ASC requirements. When the quality of seeds is good, the survival rate, spawning rate and hatching rate are high, which ensures that ecological resources for the farm have been utilised sustainably.

ASC certification also requires robust escape management practices. Although crayfish have been farmed in China for nearly 100 years, they are still an exotic species, and unregulated growth of crayfish in the wild is strictly restricted by Chinese law.

The most suitable habitats for crayfish in China are in the Yangtze River Basin, where rice paddy farmers have historically struggled economically. In recent years, seasonal farming of crayfish in rice paddies has become an important industry and alleviates poverty in agricultural communities in the region.

According to the ASC, rice paddy crayfish farming can increase the income of local farmers by 200 to 300 percent, greatly improving the living standards of local communities. To achieve balance between the economic benefits of crayfish farming and the ecological need to manage an exotic species, escape prevention is a core requirement to achieve ASC certification. Along with other efforts, Guolian has installed protective fencing along the edges of the rice field and isolation nets at the entrance of the waterway to meet the ASC requirements for escape management.

“We’re very pleased that Guolian has earned ASC certification and to see the increase overall of ASC certified responsible seafood farms in China,” said Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC. “The robust requirements of the ASC standard are improving ecological protection of cropland-aquaculture in China, improving quality at the seafood farms and contributing to improved livelihoods for local communities. We hope ASC continues to help set the standard for the sustainable development of China's aquaculture industry.”

China’s annual production of crayfish farming reached 2.5 million tonnes in 2022, making it the world's largest crayfish producer. Global markets for crayfish include the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and more, where demand for ASC certified responsibly farmed crayfish can now begin to be met.

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