Government support for the fishing and aquaculture sector could be as much as RMB 500 billion (USD 80.4 billion, EUR 62.8 billion) when regional and national subsidies for rural-based fish farmers are taken into account. China's aquaculture and fisheries sectors are both benefitting from a general ramp-up in government spending to spur rural growth and lift incomes among peasants, seen by Chinese policymakers as the most disadvantaged section of society but also a new source of consumption spending. In 2011, the central government paid a record RMB 1 trillion (USD 160.8 billion, EUR 125.6 billion) in subsidies to the so-called “three peasant” sectors of society: rural infrastructure, farm families and agricultural enterprises. The figure was set to rise to RMB 1.2 trillion (USD 193 billion, EUR 150.7 billion) in 2012.
Aquaculture appears to benefit less, at least in direct subsidies. The Ministry of Agriculture for instance announced RMB 400 million (USD 64.3 million, EUR 50.2 million) in national subsidies in 2011 for fish seedlings. Subsidies are also being ramped up regionally, with local governments in aquaculture hot spots like Hainan offering regionalized subsidies.
Faced with limited land and water resources, China has in recent months made much of developing territorial waters to produce food. Zhang Hongzhou, an analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore points to the recent 18th Party Congress Chinese where leaders pledged that they would enhance China’s capacity for exploiting marine resources. “With strong commitment from the top, Chinese officials and marine experts advocate that the country’s food system be more maritime-based. Development of aquaculture and offshore fishing is being prioritized.”
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