• fisheries economics;
  • location quotient;
  • regional development;
  • sustainable fisheries


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

This article examines national and regional dependence on fisheries in mainland China. In 2010, the fishing industry in mainland China contributed 1.5% to annual national GDP and represented 9.3% of value added by all primary production sectors. The annual value of fishery exports accounted for about 30% of the national food export value. It provided an average of more than 40 kg yr−1 of animal protein for every Chinese person, contributing greatly to national food security. Moreover, fisheries have created employment for approximately 14.0 million persons, and a source of income and livelihood for 20.8 million people in 5.2 million households. Fisheries are mainly concentrated in the provinces along the coast and those in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Furthermore, the primary fisheries sector is a basic industry in more regions than the secondary and tertiary sectors.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

Fisheries make crucial contributions to the global well-being and prosperity. Much work has been performed to evaluate regional dependence on the fishery sector. In Japan and many South-East Asian countries, fisheries are regarded as important in assuring domestic food security (van Mulekom et al. 2006; Smith 2008). In Bangladesh, fisheries contribute between 3.2% and 5.6% of gross domestic product (GDP; Rahman & Ahmed 2002). In India, fisheries provided full-time jobs for millions of fishers and fish farmers (Sakthivel 1999). Fisheries also act as important sources of commodities in many countries, with significant exports contributing to foreign exchange earnings (van Mulekom et al. 2006). For instance, fresh fish exports are the third most valuable export sector in Fiji, and it affects the economy positively mainly through an increase in the purchase of goods and services (Hunt 1999). The importance of small-scale fisheries to food security, poverty alleviation and poverty prevention in the developing world is becoming increasingly understood and appreciated. For example, Africa's inland fisheries play an increasingly important role in the development of economic opportunities and the provision of food for the continent's poorest communities (Gordon 2005). The characteristics and contribution of recreational fisheries to the local, regional and national economies of Angola and Namibia have been, respectively, evaluated by Potts et al. (2008) and Stage and Kirchner (2005). In Germany, commercial fishing in natural waters has decreased considerably over the last century, while recreational fisheries have gained increasing importance in rivers and lakes (Wedekind et al. 2001). In Finland, despite the contribution of fisheries to the national economy being marginal, they are still important at the regional level (Virtanen et al. 2001).

In China, the most populous developing county in the world, the contribution of fisheries is vital, and it is reported that Chinese fish production by weight accounts for one-third of the world total in recent years (FAO 2012). Nevertheless, regional dependence on the fishery sector in China has not been well studied. This article explores how fishing industries contribute to national social and economic development in mainland China. It also discusses regional dependence on fisheries and pays special attention to differences between coastal and inland areas. In this context, the term ‘fisheries’ comprises the primary sectors of capture and aquaculture, the secondary sectors of fish processing, fishery machinery manufacturing, fishery infrastructure construction, fish feed, drugs, as well as the tertiary sectors of fish distribution and marketing, recreation and technical training. The classification follows the common standard of industrial classification.

Geographical and demographic overview

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

China is the world's third largest country with an area of 9.6 million km2. It is located in South-East Asia along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean and spans about 50° of latitude and 62° of longitude. The coastline of China stretches more than 18 000 km and borders the Bohai, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and South China Sea. Inland waters cover about 17 471 000 ha, equivalent to 1.8% of the country's total area. The larger rivers, the Yangtze, Yellow, Heilong, Pearl, Liaohe, Haihe and Huaihe, flow east into the Pacific Ocean. The Yarlung Zangbo River in Tibet flows first east and then south into the Indian Ocean, The Ertix River flows north from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the Arctic Ocean. The Tarim River in southern Xinjiang is China's longest interior river. China's territory includes many large or medium-sized lakes: freshwater lakes such as Poyang, Dongting, Taihu and Hongze mostly lie in the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain, while saltwater lakes, such as Qinghai, Nam Co and Siling Co, are found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In addition, there are numerous small, natural and artificial water bodies scattered throughout the nation. China has a marked continental monsoonal climate but is very variable by region. Most areas of China are in the north temperate zone, but the southern regions are in the tropical or subtropical zone and the northern regions are in the Frigid Zone. The fauna of China's territorial seas supports more than 7500 species of aquatic organisms (3032 species of fish, 734 species of crab, 546 species of shrimp, 2557 species of mollusc, 790 species of marine algae, 29 species of marine mammals). Eight hundred species of freshwater fishes have been recorded from its inland waters (Zhang & He 2005). Besides these, more than 200 aquatic species of economic importance, such as white-leg shrimp and tilapia, have been introduced into China in the past 30 years.

Mainland China is divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions and three municipalities directly under the Central Government (Fig. 1, Table 1), besides Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. In mainland China, there are more than 1.3 billion inhabitants; they are unevenly distributed, with the inland areas more sparsely populated and coastal provinces densely populated.

Table 1. Gross output value and value added (million RMB¥) by every fishery sectors in each province of mainland China in 2010. Provinces are classified as coastal (C) or inland (I)
ProvincePrimary sectorSecondary sectorTertiary sector
FishingAquacultureFish processingFishing equipment manufacturingFish feed and drugInfrastructure constructionWholesaleRecreational fisheryTechnical training
Gross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue addedGross outputValue added
  1. Source: MOAPRC (2011a).

BeijingI155.937.41131.1383.274.19.7  182.436.220.15.4136.331.1328.9134.21.10.5
TianjinC779.1378.44396.62099.33.70.781.031.6108.318.8  150.672.4209.4105.01247.2142.8
Inner MongoliaI304.1205.81078.6571.8165.586.6      143.652.6141.371.6  
HeilongjiangI796.8389.64756.72269.7150.545.2  89.326.8  421.3126.4235.270.610.63.2
ShanghaiC1498.9344.74025.8925.91211.1278.6162.237.3  2.40.536.88.544.310.2  
SichuanI919.0578.012005.36680.374.020.10.1 2370.5733.7  4751.71443.71308.2584.7150.066.3
GuizhouI145.196.91016.2664.  40.823.912.
YunnanI248.8118.43369.7707.8247.8121.9  196.954.6  1224.0143.4146.455.90.60.1
Xizang (Tibet)I6.  
GansuI  141.366.51.90.2    0.3 20.51.522.
QinghaiI  12.48.3              
NingxiaI2.00.7973.3379.8    228.888.3  633.127.924.
XinjiangI159.647.91112.5333.818.04.5  25.37.5  

Figure 1. The administrative provinces of mainland China. Regions with lines are coastal provinces, the remaining are inland ones.

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Data and methodology

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

This study is based mainly on data from the China Fishery Statistical Yearbook [referred to as CFSY hereafter; Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)PRC 2011a] and the China Statistical Yearbook [referred to as CSY hereafter; National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBOSOC) 2011]. Data on capture, aquaculture, fish processing, fishery machinery manufacturing, fish feed and drug, fishery infrastructure, wholesaling, recreation and technical training, as well as the level of employment in corresponding sectors are based on the business registry of the CFSY. The value added by the primary production sector is compared with the GDP by region, which is based on the provincial accounts of the CSY.

Regional dependence on fisheries is studied at the provincial administrative division level in mainland China (Fig. 1). Regions are further classified as inland or coastal provinces. The concentration of fisheries and regional dependence on them are evaluated in absolute and relative terms. Employment and value added for the regions are presented by sector. The input of fisheries to the regional economy is examined by the share of value added by sector and relatively by location quotients. Because of the lack of data, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are not included in this study.

This study uses the region-based Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve to measure the inequalities of fisheries among regions in China. The region-based Gini here differs from the conventional Gini coefficient in that it is calculated on a regional basis, giving a measure of inequality by comparing the fishery output values of neighbourhoods, whereas the conventional Gini compares on a household or per capita basis (Arnold 2008; Druckman & Jackson 2008). The Gini coefficient is usually defined mathematically based on the Lorenz curve (Arnold 2008). To construct a Lorenz curve, the per capita fishery output values of every province are ranked from the lowest to the largest, and the cumulative fraction of total output value (y) is plotted against the cumulative fraction of the province (x). The upper limit of this curve is the x line indicating perfect equality. The Gini coefficient G quantifies the area between the Lorenz curve and the line of perfect equality expressed as a fraction of the area under the x line. It ranges from 0, when all units are equal, to a theoretical maximum of 1, when all resources are monopolised by one unit (Weiner & Solbrig 1984). Polynomials were fitted to describe Lorenz curves (L; R2 = 0.99), and G was calculated as described by Weiner and Solbrig (1984): inline image.

Usually, the concentration ratio [CR(n)] is a way of measuring the concentration of market share held by particular suppliers in a market. It is the percentage of total market sales accounted for by a given number of leading firms (Pass et al. 1991; Arnold 2008). Thus, a four-/eight-firm concentration ratio is the total market share of the four/eight firms with the largest market shares. In this study, the regional-based CR(n), which are calculated on a region rather than a firm basis, are used to measure the share of the top four and the eight largest provinces in terms of fishery output values: inline image, where, Si is the fishery fraction of province i relative to the whole nation.

The location quotient (LQ) is a quantitative measure used to describe the concentration of a group or an activity in a locality or region relative to that of a larger area such as the countrywide or national norm (Mayer & Pleeter 1975; Virtanen et al. 2001; Chiang 2009; Gregory et al. 2009) and has been widely used as an indicator in regional analysis (Mayer & Pleeter 1975; Miller et al. 1991; Virtanen et al. 2001). Therefore, LQ is used to identify regions where fisheries production exceeds the national average and acts as a basic industry. The provincial value added by primary, secondary and tertiary fishery sectors, and provincial GDP are used as a base.

The quotient is the ratio of the local activity to the national figure, that is, LQ for a given activity for province i is the ratio of the percentage of the total regional activity in province i to the percentage of the total base in province i. If Ai describes the level of the activity in province i and Bi is equal to the level of the base, then inline image. The numerator of the above equation denotes the percentage of the activity in province i and the denominator the percentage of the base. Subscript n refers to the national total. The location quotient is a ratio of two percentages; thus, it is dimensionless. If LQ = 1, the activity in the province is equal to its share of the national base. Therefore, location quotients can be generally interpreted following Hoover and Giarratani (1984) as: (1) if LQ ≥ 2, there is at least twice as much activity in the province as the national average – the sector is termed a strong basic industry of the province; (2) if 1 ≤ LQ < 2, there is a relatively higher concentration of the activity in province i compared with the nation as a whole – the sector under concern is termed a basic industry of the region; (3) if LQ < 1, there is less concentration of the activity in province i than the nation as a whole – the activity is termed a non-basic industry.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

Contribution to national economic growth

The gross output value by fisheries in mainland China approached RMB¥ 1290 billion (US$ 210 billion) in 2010; of this, 52, 24 and 24% were, respectively, contributed by the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. The value added by fisheries was about RMB¥ 590 (US$ 96) billion, accounting for 1.5% of the national GDP, of this, 64, 19 and 17% were added by the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, respectively (MOAPRC 2011a). The value added accounted for nearly half of the turnover, indicating that fisheries can be considered relatively high value adding industries.

The gross output value and value added by primary fisheries were RMB¥ 673 (US$ 110) billion and RMB¥ 379 (US$ 61) billion, respectively, in mainland China in 2010 (Table 1). They accounted for approximately 9.3% of that by all primary production sectors including farming, forestry and animal husbandry (CSY), the share was about 3 times higher than that of 1980s, and 1.2 times higher than that of 1990s (Fig. 2). In primary fisheries, the output value and the value added by capture and aquaculture accounted for about 23 and 77%, respectively, in 2010.


Figure 2. Share of annual primary fishery gross output value relative to that of all primary sectors in mainland China during 1980–2010.

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In 2010, the gross output value and value added of the secondary sector of fisheries, including fish processing, fishery machinery manufacturing, fish feed and drugs, and fishery infrastructure, approached, respectively, RMB¥ 309 (US$ 50) billion and RMB¥ 112 (US$ 18) billion in mainland China while corresponding values of the tertiary sectors, including wholesaling, recreation and technical training, were RMB¥ 309 (US$ 50) billion and RMB¥ 99 (US$ 16) billion, respectively (Table 1).

Food supplier and nutrition improver

In 2010, the total output by weight by fisheries in mainland China reached 53.73 million tonnes, of which, 38.29 million tonnes came from aquaculture and 15.44 million tonnes from capture (MOAPRC 2011a), accounting for 71 and 29%, respectively. National per capita fish supply amounted to 40.1 kg yr−1, two times higher than that of the world average in the same year (FAO 2012).

In the last 30 years, per capita annual fishery output in mainland China has been increasing at a rate of 7.7% on average (Fig. 3), growing much faster than the country's population (at 1.0% per year). The increasing supply of fishery products and other animal protein has significantly improved the nutritional structure of residents (Table 2). Life expectancy in mainland China has increased from 68.6 years in 1990 to 74.8 years in 2010 (NBOSOC 2011). This may be partly due to the significant increase in the supply of fishery products.

Table 2. Per capita annual purchases (kg) of major food commodities of urban households in mainland China from 1985 to 2010
  1. Source: NBOSOC (2011).

Fishery products7.087.699.211.7412.5515.21
Fresh vegetables144.36138.70116.47114.74118.58116.11
Edible vegetable oil5.766.407.
Beef and mutton2.043.282.443.333.713.78
Fresh eggs6.847.259.7411.2110.4010.00
Milk 4.634.629.9417.9213.98
Fresh melons and fruits 41.1144.9657.4856.6954.23

Figure 3. Annual per capita fishery production by weight in mainland China during 1980–2010.

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China accounted for more than 60% of global aquaculture production by weight in 2010 (FAO 2012). The output of national marine aquaculture was 14.82 million tonnes in 2010. Shellfish output was the highest, amounting to 11.08 million tonnes and accounting for 75% of total marine aquaculture output. Output of seaweed was the second highest, reaching almost 1.54 million tonnes. These were followed by crustaceans (1.06 million tonnes), finfish (0.81 million tonnes) and others (0.33 million tonnes, including sea cucumber, sea urchin and jellyfish). The top 10 species harvested in marine culture were oysters (3.64 million tonnes), clam (3.54 million tonnes), scallop (1.41 million tonnes), kelp (0.88 million tonnes), razor clam (0.71 million tonnes), mussel (0.70 million tonnes), white-leg shrimp (0.61 million tonnes), blood clams (0.31 million tonnes), conch (0.21 million tonnes) and mud crab (0.12 million tonnes). The output of sea bass was the highest of marine cultured fish, amounting to 0.11 million tonnes, followed by large yellow croaker (0.09 million tonnes), flounder (0.08 million tonnes), red fish (Sciaenops ocellatus, 0.05 million tonnes) and grouper (0.05 million tonnes). At the same time, output of inland aquaculture was 23.47 million tonnes, accounting for 61% of the total cultured output in China. Finfish contributed 20.64 million tonnes or 88% of total inland culture output. Crustaceans reached 2.13 million tonnes, followed by other freshwater creatures (soft-shell turtle, frogs, 0.43 million tonnes), shellfish (0.25 million tonnes) and 9691 tonnes of algae. The top ten species harvested in inland culture were grass carp (4.22 million tonnes), silver carp (3.61 million tonnes), big head carp (2.55 million tonnes), common carp (2.54 million tonnes), crucian carp (2.22 million tonnes), tilapia (1.33 million tonnes), Chinese breams (0.65 million tonnes), white-leg shrimp (0.62 million tonnes), Chinese river crab (0.59 million tonnes) and black carp (0.42 million tonnes).

The marine capture sector is an important component of China's fishing industry. In 2010, marine capture fisheries contributed 13.15 million tonnes (including output from distant marine capture). The main captured products consisted of six groups: finfish (8.25 million tonnes); crustaceans (2.04 million tonnes); cephalopods (0.66 million tonnes); shellfish (0.62 million tonnes); seaweed (0.02 million tonnes); and other (0.43 million tonnes, including jellyfish). The principle species for marine capture fisheries are hairtail (1.19 million tonnes), anchovy (0.60 million tonnes), Japanese scad (0.56 million tonnes), chub mackerel (0.49 million tonnes), Spanish mackerel (0.48 million tonnes), small yellow croaker (0.41 million tonnes), silvery pomfret (0.36 million tonnes), sea eel (0.34 million tonnes), golden threadfin bream (0.31 million tonnes), spinyhead croaker (0.24 million tonnes), leatherjacket (0.20 million tonnes), cardinalfish (0.17 million tonnes), mullet (0.16 million tonnes), ammodytes (0.15 million tonnes), sardine (0.14 million tonnes) and white croaker (0.13 million tonnes).

The output of inland capture fisheries in 2010 was 2.29 million tonnes, originating from both lakes and rivers. In terms of catch composition, finfish formed 1.61 million tonnes, followed by crustaceans (0.34 million tonnes) and shellfish (0.29 million tonnes). The principle captured species are similar to those of inland aquaculture.

The dominant role of marine and inland aquaculture may be for the following reasons. First, with the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Fishery agreements between Korea, Japan and China, a great number of fishers have given up their traditional capture activities and transferred to aquaculture and other ways of earning a living. Second, overexploitation in the past has resulted in a decrease in fish stocks. Third, increasing actions have been taken to protect natural fishery resources, and the avoidance of capture in protected waters and in a fishing moratorium of 2–3 months every year has promoted the development of aquaculture. There has also been considerable technical progress in aquaculture.

Supporter of livelihood and employment

According to the CFSY (MOAPRC 2011a), the number of fishers and fish farmers increased annually at a rate of 2.0% during the 1991–2010 period in mainland China, growing twice as fast as the country's population. In the same period, there was a gradual reduction in the population of fishers in many developed countries such as Japan, Norway and United Kingdom (FAO 2012). In 2010, fisheries provided a source of income and livelihood for 20.8 million people in 5.2 million households in mainland China by creating employment directly for approximately 14.0 million persons (26% of the world total; Table 3), accounting for 1.8% of the total number of employed persons in all industries across mainland China (NBOSOC 2011). Of this, 7.64 million were full-time professional fishery workers, and the other 6.35 million were part-time or temporary ones (Table 3). In particular, the primary sector provided employment for approximately 6.77 million professional persons, accounting for 88% of the full-time professional fishery workers, of which, the number of persons engaged in aquaculture was approximately three times higher than that in capture (Table 3). Similar to the rest of the world, China has been experiencing a decrease or stagnation in the number of people engaged in capture fisheries since 2000. Nevertheless, aquaculture has been providing increased opportunities. Per capita annual net income of fish farmers amounted to RMB¥ 8963 (US$ 1452) in 2010, higher than that of rural farmers in mainland China (RMB¥ 5919 or US$ 960).

Table 3. Number of workers employed by fishery sectors in mainland China in 2010. Provinces are classified as coastal (C) or inland (I)
ProvinceNo. of professional workersNo. of part-time workersNo. of temporary workers
  1. Source: MOAPRC (2011a).

BeijingI82587652334 l44003725
TianjinC532418 118113611 9427274
HebeiC37 29056 79715 72955 23467 084
Inner MongoliaI60949259114992532096
LiaoningC133 038209 22134 870 116 56772 628
JilinI239360949839 2941262
HeilongjiangI25 28567 304986031 5967899
ShanghaiC10 11521 59011791971861
JiangsuC189 928484 93344 186350 220 125 438
ZhejiangC174 378216 729116 200200 34597 569
AnhuiI67 767257 33635 367278 53175 639
FujianC194 650284 72665 118325 86854 905
JiangxiI64 849311 45359 208424 982101 326
ShandongC242 551350 006180 642344 567239 362
HenanI33 119151 45123 805209 72840 106
HubeiI89 372760 80244 179285 634119 899
HunanI34 252319 08631 080413 81837 171
GuangdongC239 446568 06258 132410 58062 319
GuangxiC65 590219 29742 736315 82282 195
HainanC110 12251 30424 62246 9048713
ChongqingI12 227162 20313 963130 55948 562
SichuanI25 385305 15055 228697 02866 566
GuizhouI574525 985507357 4239770
YunnanI14 32072 4014489135 56968 381
Xizang TibetI178  73 
ShaanxiI222219 240234629 1522884
QinghaiI3294 67158
NingxiaI39410 231149044902136
Total1 786 8944 978 9698752564 942 8241 408 199

Trade commodities and foreign exchange

A large amount of fish and fishery products have been exported from mainland China to many other countries, such as Japan, Korea, America and the European Union to earn foreign exchange in recent decades. The annual quantity and value of fishery exports have increased from 0.38 million tonnes and US1.18 billion in 1991 to 3.34 million tonnes and US13.8 billion in 2010, achieving an average annual increase of 13 and 15%, respectively. The value of annual fishery exports accounts for approximately 30% of the value of national food exports from mainland China in recent years. The main varieties exported are shrimp, shellfish, tilapia, eel and large yellow croaker. Since 2002, China has become the leading fishery exporter and contributed 10–12% of the world's exports of fish and fishery products per year (FAO 2012).

Regional profile

In 2010, the Gini coefficient of per capita fishery output value among provinces in mainland China was 0.60. Spatial Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients showed a largely unequal dependence of fisheries between regions (Fig. 4). Concentration ratios CR(4) and CR(8) of fishery output value were 51 and 82%, respectively, indicating the fishery industry of mainland China is highly concentrated in a few provinces with large outputs. The top eight turnover values were achieved by Shandong, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces in turn. Of which, the first six provinces are located in coastal area of south-east China, the other two are inland provinces in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River (Fig. 1).


Figure 4. Lorenz curve of per capita fishery output value by provinces in mainland China.

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In general, the value of coastal commercial fisheries was RMB¥ 101 (US$ 16) billion, being three times higher than that of inland fisheries. In some inland provinces, such as Tibet, Gansu and Qinghai in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, fisheries were less developed (Table 1). Accordingly, in the 11 coastal provinces, fisheries provided employment for approximately 7.47 million persons. While in the other 20 inland provinces, the corresponding figure was approximately 6.53 million persons.

On the other hand the first ten provinces with a higher share of fishery value added were Hainan, Fujian, Liaoning, Hubei, Shandong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu in turn. Fishery value added accounted for 7.7% of GDP in Hainan province, an island province with an area of 35 354 km2 in the South China Sea. Fujian and Liaoning came second and third to Hainan in terms of value added, accounting for 5.4 and 3.0%, respectively while in some provinces such as Xizang (Tibet), Qinghai, Gansu, Xinjiang, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia in Northwest China fisheries accounted for <0.1% of regional GDP. The contribution to employment in general coincided with that of regional production (Fig. 5).


Figure 5. Fraction of worker number and value added by fisheries in every province of mainland China.

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The shares of value added are used to calculate location quotients (Table 4). Aquaculture contributed 49% of value added to fisheries in mainland China in 2010. In absolute terms, the 11 provinces on the long coastline of mainland China, including Hainan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Shandong, Liaoning, Tianjin and Hebei, produced 68% of the total value added derived from aquaculture. Except for Hebei, aquaculture is a basic industry in all coastal provinces, with a location quotient >1 (Fig. 6). Furthermore, in Fujian, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Tianjin, LQ ≥ 2, fisheries can be considered a strong industry (Fig. 6). Although aquaculture is widely dispersed among all inland provinces, aquaculture is a basic industry only in three provinces along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including Hubei, Jiangxi and Anhui (Fig. 6).

Table 4. Location quotients by fishery sectors and regions in mainland China. Provinces are classified as coastal (C) or inland (I)
ProvinceSectorAll sectors
BeijingI0.430.140.36 0.03 0.11 0.03
Inner MongoliaI0.
Xizang TibetI0.

Figure 6. Location quotients of the primary fisheries by provinces in mainland China. (a) Aquaculture; (b) Capture; (c) Primary fisheries as a whole.

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Capture accounted for 15% of value added by fisheries. It was more concentrated than aquaculture, and heavily concentrated in eight coastal provinces. The location quotients showed that capture fisheries are a very strong industry in coastal Hainan, Fujian, Zhejiang and Liaoning provinces, and a basic industry in coastal provinces of Jiangsu, Shanghai, Shandong and Tianjin. In absolute terms, these eight coastal provinces have produced 75% of the total value added by capture. Capture is also a basic industry in Jiangxi, an inland province (Fig. 6).

As a whole, primary production is reasonably widely dispersed throughout the country. Location quotients show that in four coastal provinces, Hainan, Fujian, Zhejiang and Liaoning, it is a strong basic industry, while in another five coastal provinces of Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Shandong and Tianjin, it is classified as a basic industry. In addition, it is a basic industry in three inland provinces along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, that is, Hubei, Jiangxi and Anhui (Fig. 6).

The secondary fisheries sector is less dispersed than primary production. The regional differentiation of location quotients is consistent with that of primary production. Location quotients show that in four coastal provinces, that is, Hainan, Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning, it is a strong basic industry, while in the two coastal provinces of Guangdong and Zhejiang, it is classified as a basic industry. In absolute terms, these six coastal provinces produced 80% of the total value added derived from secondary production including fish processing, fishery machinery manufacturing, fish feed and drug and infrastructure construction. It is a basic industry in only two inland provinces, that is, Hubei and Jiangxi (Fig. 7).


Figure 7. Location quotients of the secondary fisheries by provinces in mainland China.

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The fisheries tertiary sector is much more heavily concentrated than secondary and primary production (Fig. 8). It can be classified as a strong basic industry in two coastal provinces (Fujian and Shandong) and one inland region (Hubei). In another three coastal provinces (Hainan, Guangxi and Liaoning), it is a basic industry. The tertiary sector, in general, is concentrated in the coastal regions.


Figure 8. Location quotients of the tertiary fisheries by provinces in mainland China.

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Considering all sectors, among all of the 31 administrative provinces in mainland China, fisheries can be classified as a strong basic industry in four coastal provinces, Hainan, Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning, and in two inland provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River – Hubei and Jiangxi. Meanwhile, in another three coastal provinces, that is, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangxi and one inland province, that is, Anhui, fisheries acts as a basic industry (Fig. 9; Table 4).


Figure 9. Location quotients of all fishery sectors by provinces in mainland China.

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  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

National dependence

With the continuous improvement of living standards, both China's domestic and international markets show increasing demand for fishery products. For decades, fisheries in mainland China have been growing strongly. Since 1990, China has been listed as the top-ranking fishery country globally in terms of quantity.

In mainland China in 2010, the fishing industry contributed 1.5% of the annual national GDP and 9.3% of value added by all primary production sectors. Annual fisheries export value accounted for approximately 30% of the national food export value. It has provided more than 40 kg of animal protein for every person annually in the most populous developing country in the world, contributing greatly to its national food security and nutrition improvement. Moreover, fisheries have created employment for approximately 14.0 million persons (26% of the world total employment in fisheries); 20.8 million people in 5.2 million households found a source of income and livelihood in the fisheries sector.

Regional concentration

Region-based Gini coefficient and Lorenz curve showed an unequal dependence of fisheries between regions. Concentration ratios CR (4) and CR (8) indicated that the fisheries sector of mainland China is highly concentrated in a few provinces with large outputs. The application of location quotients allowed assessment of the regional importance by fishery sectors and also comparison of coastal and inland regions.

The primary fisheries sector is a basic industry in more regions than the secondary and tertiary sectors, and the tertiary sector is the most concentrated. When capture is compared with aquaculture, the latter is much more widely dispersed. The concentration of fisheries in the provinces along the coastline and in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River may, in part, be due to the superior water conditions for fish growth and long histories of fisheries there. The sea area amounts to 472.70 million ha in mainland China, of which, 2.60 million ha is available for aquaculture (NBOSOC 2011). In addition, there are a large number of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and manmade fishery ponds in these provinces. The lower levels of development in Northwest China may due to the lower proportion of wetland to dry territory in these arid and semi-arid regions. Although there are large areas of wetlands in Xizang (Tibet), Gansu and Qinghai provinces on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, fisheries are less developed there, because fishery productivity is stressed in such high altitude, cold lakes and rivers, and traditionally, fish is taboo as food for local Tibetan people (Wen 2012).

Regional constraints

Marine and freshwater capture production has remained stable at around 13 and 2 million t yr−1, respectively, since 2006, indicating that the growth of wild fishery resources has approached its upper limit. Aquaculture development in China faces some constraints and problems. First, wetlands have been shrinking continuously in most provinces in the last decades. In coastal provinces and inland provinces of South China, hundreds of square kilometres of wetlands have been transformed into building land, while in inland provinces of Northeast China, many wetlands have been transformed into cultivated lands (Niu et al. 2012). In addition, deterioration of the aquatic environment results in great economic losses each year. In 2010, the national fishery economic loss resulting from aquatic pollution amounted to RMB¥ 1.33 (US$ 0.22) billion, of which, the top five provinces, coastal Shandong, Fujian, Liaoning, Guangdong and Jiangsu, accounted for 37, 11, 10, 9 and 8%, respectively, of the total losses by pollution, followed by Anhui, Hubei and Jiangxi, three inland provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River (MOAPRC 2011a). Second, natural hazards such as tropical cyclones, floods and droughts often hit aquaculture farms. In 2010, the economic loss to the fishery nationally resulting from floods or cyclones amounted to RMB¥ 11.11 (US$ 1.80) billion. The provinces which suffered the most included Hubei, Jiangxi, Hunan and Anhui, four inland provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and five coastal provinces – Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, Liaoning and Shandong (MOAPRC 2011a). Furthermore, inland provinces are often affected by droughts. In 2010, the national fisheries economic loss from droughts amounted to RMB¥ 1.22 (US$ 0.20) billion, of which more than 80% occurred in inland provinces such as Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Sichuan, Guizhou and Xingjian (MOAPRC 2011a). Third, aquaculture diseases have led to significant losses, amounting to RMB¥ 3.22 (US$ 0.52) billion in 2010 (MOAPRC 2011a). Of which, the top ten included six coastal provinces: Liaoning, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Guangxi, and four inland provinces: Hubei, Jiangxi, Hunan and Anhui.

Development prospects

According to the twelfth 5-year plan (2011–2015) for fishery development in China (MOAPRC 2011b), more than 3 million km2 of ocean and 0.67 million km2 of saline land still exist that are appropriate for fisheries but have not been fully developed. In addition, 20 000 km2 of inland fresh waters are available for fisheries (NBOSOC 2011). Therefore, the potential for increasing fishery production is still great in mainland China. In particular, in February 2006, the Government of China issued a Programme of Action on Conservation of Living Aquatic Resources of China to address fisheries in a sustainable manner. According to this Programme, by 2020, aquatic environments will be gradually rehabilitated, the decline in fishery resources will be reversed and fishing capacity and catch from marine capture fisheries should generally be sustainable. In the aquaculture sector, the programme specifies that it should positively explore eco-farming models that combine traditional and modern ways, establish healthy culture and eco-farming pilot areas, positively extend healthy culture and eco-farming technology, and mitigate pollution from aquaculture. It is estimated that the annual gross output value and value added by fisheries will increase, respectively, from RMB¥ 1290 (US$ 210) billion and RMB¥ 590 (US$ 96) billion in 2010 to RMB¥ 2100 (US$ 340) billion and RMB¥ 990 (US$ 160) billion in 2015, and annual output will increase from 53.73 million tonnes to 60.00 million tonnes in 2015 (MOAPRC 2011b). Without doubt, the fisheries sector will continue to contribute to China's national economic growth, foreign trade, food security and social employment. As in many other countries, recreational fisheries are also showing strong potential to develop rapidly in the near future in China. Furthermore, the provinces along the coastline and in the middle and lower reaches of Yangzi River will continue to be the dominant regions of fishery production.


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References

I am very grateful to the two anonymous referees for their suggestive revision comments on the former versions of the manuscript. The careful proof reading provided by Mr. Greg Baker is much appreciated. This research was granted by The National Science Foundation of China (Project No. 30571524) and State Oceanic Administration of the People's Republic of China (Project No. 201305009).


  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Geographical and demographic overview
  5. Data and methodology
  6. Results
  7. Discussion
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. References
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