S. Korea to accelerate localization of salmon aquafarming techniques thru 150 mln dollar project

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : October 5, 2021, 16:42 Updated : October 5, 2021, 16:48

[Courtesy of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries]

SEOUL -- To boost the localization of salmon aquafarming techniques in South Korea, the country's conglomerates will team up with small and medium-sized aquafarms through a 178.1 billion won ($150 million) state project. The country's maritime ministry will build three aquaculture facilities and a fish disease prevention laboratory to demonstrate the production and boost the domestic Atlantic salmon market to about 420 billion won.

Data released by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries showed that the global salmon market stands at about 60 trillion won ($51 billion), weighing 4.8 million tons per year. About 80 percent of them are produced through foreign aquafarms. The world's annual production of Atlantic salmon amounts to up to 2.6 million tons and some 80 percent is produced in Norway and Chile. South Korea imports more than 40,000 tons of Atlantic salmon every year. South Korea's environmental ministry has not approved the operation of salmon aquafarms because the foreign fish species may spread parasites and infectious diseases to local fish and other aquatic living organisms.

The ocean ministry said in a statement on October 5 that the ministry will build three aquaculture facilities by 2024 to produce some 5,000 tons of Atlantic salmon annually by collaborating with private sectors. Through an investment of 22.6 billion won by 2024, the ministry will also establish a salmon disease center to research diseases and genetic information of salmon. The ministry will also invest 35.5 billion won in digital genetic analysis technology research by 2028 to produce commercially available salmon breeds.

According to the ministry, South Korea will be able to produce about 40,000 tons of salmon by 2027. The domestically produced fish will be exported to other Asian countries such as China and Japan in 2029.

"We expect to create a domestic Atlantic salmon market worth about 420 billion won through the cooperation between conglomerates and small and medium-sized aquafarms," South Korea's maritime ministry official Kim Joon-seok was quoted as saying. The ministry said that about 1,645 new jobs will be created through the salmon aquafarm project.

South Korea has developed various fish-farming technologies due to the high consumption of seafood. In 2016, the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, a state research institute, developed complete eel-raising technologies that can transform the leptocephalus into a glass eel capable of being raised in a fish farm for the second time in the world. Eels have been an essential part of the food culture in South Korea, but many South Korean eel restaurants and fish farms have been closed due to the insufficient supply of baby eels (glass eels) and high prices that have chased away customers. In the same year, the state-run National Institute of Fisheries Science secured pollock-raising technologies for the first time in the world. Alaskan pollock, South Korea's popular wintertime cuisine, has almost disappeared around the Korean peninsula due to global warming and overfishing.
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