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Production and consumption of brine shrimp (Artemia) in China and the region continues to rise but concerns about overharvesting require action

18/04/2018 Tianjin, China

The brine shrimp Artemia is found in hypersaline habitats such as salt lakes and coastal salt pans worldwide. It is a major live food item and critically important for the nutrition of the larval stages of farmed fish and crustaceans. Moreover, it is an important test organism in a variety of life sciences today.

Within the global landscape of Artemia biodiversity, exploitation and use, China is a key player, home to an exceptionally rich Artemia biodiversity. Several of these Artemia resources are commercially exploited, and some of them are over-harvested, bearing the risk of extinction of unique strains.

FAO has supported Artemia research and development globally. Experts attending an FAO Workshop in Tianjin, P.R. China in November 2016 concluded that there is a strong need for establishing an Asian Regional Artemia Reference Center which should help to advance standards and methods towards proper quality assurance, and for better use of application modalities of Artemia products, particularly for hatcheries and small-scale producers in the region. “Tianjin University of Science and Technology is proud to become a regional hub for Artemia science and practical application” said Prof. Han, the Rector of the University.

China is the biggest producer of Artemia cysts, with global production estimated at 3-3500 tonnes/year, and at the same time is also the biggest consumer. The pressure on Artemia as a feed resource is expected to grow further in the years to come. Matthias Halwart, Acting Head of FAO’s Aquaculture Branch, welcomed the excellent progress made: “FAO is very pleased to collaborate with Tianjin University of Science and Technology in the establishment of the Asian Regional Artemia Reference Center which will provide important services nationally and in the region within China’s conducive Belt and Road Initiative.”

The Center and its Artemia genebank and database form an integral part of FAO’s global documentation and future strategy in follow up to The State of the World’s Aquatic Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which will be discussed at the Second Session of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Aquatic Genetic Resources to be held from 23 to 25 April 2018 at FAO, Rome.

 

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