Technical Report 3

Report prepared by
the Government of the People's Republic of China
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

based on the work of

D. Edwards
Intensive Fish Culturist

This technical report is one of a series of reports prepared during the course of the project identified on the title page. The conclusions and recommendations given in the report are those considered appropriate at the time of its preparation. They may be modified in the light of further knowledge gained at subsequent stages of the project.

The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

The Food and Agriculture Organization is greatly indebted to all those who assisted in the implementation of the project by providing information, advice and facilities.

Rome, 1994

Hyperlinks to non-FAO Internet sites do not imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at these locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. The sole purpose of links to non-FAO sites is to indicate further information available on related topics.

This electronic document has been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) software. FAO declines all responsibility for any discrepancies that may exist between the present document and its original printed version.




2.1 Building work

2.2 Equipment

2.3 Training

2.3.1 Study tour

2.3.2 Fellowships

2.4 Consultants' visits


3.1 Conclusions

3.2 Recommendations



The Intensive Fish Culture consultant Dr David Edwards, is scheduled to undertake four missions, each of approximately one month duration, to the project TCP/CPR/2356, ‘Freshwater Live Fish Storage Techniques in Xiantao, Hubei Province’. His second assignment took place from 24 February to 24 March 1994, with Terms of Reference as previously described (Edwards, 1993, Technical Report 1).



According to the project work plan, agreed with the National Project Director during the consultant's first mission to Xiantao in July 1993, construction of the new facility for live fish storage and intensive fish culture was to be completed by February 1994 (Edwards, 1993, Technical Report 1). Detailed designs for the unit were agreed between the Aquaculture Engineer consultant Varadi and counterpart specialists (Varadi, 1993, Technical Report 2). As planned during the present mission, the Intensive Fish Culture consultant would be accompanied by the Aquaculture Engineer consultant, and the new fish tanks and associated equipment were to be started up and commissioned.

Regrettably, however, by March 1994 building work has not started. Some preparation has been done by clearing trees and levelling part of the building site, but according to the National Project Director initiation of construction activity has to date been impossible due to shortage of counterpart funds.

In fact, a total of 1.3 million yuan renminbi (Y) was previously raised to finance project activities, as follows:

All of this money has already been spent. Most of it was apparently used to buy additional land and fish ponds at the Xiantao Fishery Research Institute, increasing the size of the experimental fish farm from 100 to 350 mu (6.7 to 23.3 ha), to repair security walls around the experimental farm, and for digging new wells to supply water to the unit.

Project authorities now estimate that a further Y 900 000 is needed to pay for the project construction work. This would be used as follows:

To cover these costs, a loan of Y 1 million was requested from the head office of the Agricultural Bank of China. The loan, at 7.2% over eight years, was agreed, and the money transferred to the Xiantao City branch of the Agricultural Bank for disbursement. However, the bank is now said to be unable to pay the money due to a shortage of cash. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Agricultural Bank is scheduled for restructuring into a commercial venture. Project authorities are therefore uncertain whether the loan will be forthcoming, and are looking for alternative sources of funds.

At the end of the consultant's present assignment, it is understood that the National Project Director has secured a promise from the Xiantao City Government to provide Y 400 000 by the end of March 1994. The money will take the form of an interest-free loan, repayable out of the profits anticipated from project activities. Should things go wrong and no profits be made, the loan will not have to be repaid. The NPD is now actively seeking the balance of funding needed to complete project construction work. He is confident of obtaining grants and loans from the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance in Beijing, and plans to make up any deficit with new loans from workers of the Xiantao Fishery Department.

To date, however, none of the above funding has been received.

The delay in building work has inevitably seriously set back project activities. At this time, market fish should have been brought into the new facility for grading, cleaning and short-term storage prior to sale alive. It is now impossible to have the unit ready in time to operate during the potential live fish sales period of November-May 1993/94.


Lists of equipment required were given in the 1993 reports of consultants Edwards and Varadi (Technical Reports 1 and 2), and the latter obtained quotations on some items in August 1993.

The following major items of equipment were subsequently ordered from Germany by Field Purchase Order (FPO) and have arrived in Xiantao:

Quotations have been obtained for supply of a 5-t flat-back truck, and an order will be placed through FAO head office soon.

The following major items of equipment remain to be ordered. The required actions and persons responsible are noted:


2.3.1 Study tour

Four Chinese counterparts undertook a study tour to central Europe and Hong Kong from 13 to 30 September 1993. The participants were:

The primary goal of the tour was to study high density live fish storage technology in Europe. Secondarily facilities for intensive fish culture were visited, and the group was briefed on the marketing systems and strategies for live fish employed in the countries toured.

The European part of the tour was organized by the Fish Culture Research Institute, Szarvas, Hungary. A senior member of the Institute staff accompanied and guided the group throughout its time in Europe. The following countries and major organizations were visited:

Hungary: Visited the Fish Culture Research Institute, Szarvas, to observe live fish storage in tanks and earth ponds, and intensive fish production.

The Warm Water Fish Breeding Station, Szazhalombatta, to study high density live fish storage

Balaton State Fish Farm, Heviz, to observe eel production in intensive circular concrete tanks.

The Czech Republic: Visited the Ceske Budejovice Fishery Research Institute to study live fish storage in ponds and concrete tanks.

To observe in Prague high density, large-scale mechanized live fish storage in concrete tanks for supply to markets in the capital.

Germany: Visited the Inland Fishery Research Institute, Potsdam, to observe intensive fish production in tanks.

To observe in Peitz high density live fish storage.

Hong Kong: Hosted by Promotive Investment Ltd., a private company marketing of live fish from mainland China.

The participants found the tour instructive technically, and established many professional contacts which they feel will assist project activities and the development of improved marketing channels for Xiantao fish in the future.

2.3.2 Fellowships

The Project Document makes provision for a two-month overseas fellowship for two key counterpart staff. Since the study tour described above concentrated on live fish storage techniques, it is proposed that the fellowship should focus on the other major project objective: Intensive Fish Culture. The species chosen for initial intensive culture trials in Xiantao is the American channel catfish. This species is the basis of a very large commercial fish farming industry in the southern states of the USA, and it is therefore proposed that the fellowship should be fielded in that region.

Selection of suitable candidates for training from amongst the project staff in Xiantao has not been easy. The main problem is that none of the qualified technical staff attached to the project have any knowledge of English (or other foreign language). It has therefore proved impossible to find two individuals who could travel and work in the USA alone. To get around this difficulty, it is now proposed that a Chinese-English interpreter should accompany the two technicians selected for training. Since this will add to costs, it is planned to reduce the duration of the fellowship. This should be as long as possible within budget limits, but will probably not exceed five or six weeks.

The Xiantao Fishery Department has commercial contact with a private catfish farming company in Missouri: Osage Catfisheries Inc., Rt. 4, Box 1500, Osage Beach, Missouri 65065 (Fax 314. 348–1895). Catfish eggs have been purchased from this company for a number of years. To keep down costs, it is proposed that FAO should first approach this company to ascertain its willingness to host the fellowship. Even if they are unable to help themselves, the company will be able to suggest alternative venues.

The participants require hands-on training in techniques for intensive culture of channel catfish used on commercial fish farms. They should ideally be involved in practical work covering all routine aspects of catfish farming: breeding, egg incubation and hatching, fry rearing, on-growing to market size, feeds and feeding, disease control, harvest, marketing, etc. Since the fellowship is short and cannot cover the full annual cycle, it would best be fielded during the reproductive period for the species, i.e., in spring around April-May. As time is now quite short to arrange the fellowship for this period of 1994, it may be necessary to postpone it until spring 1995.

The project authorities in Xiantao have proposed the following candidates for training:

FAO fellowship nomination forms have been completed for the above candidates for onward submission to the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing for approval.


It had been planned that the intensive fish culture and the engineering consultants should be in Xiantao together during February-March 1994 to commission the new project facilities.

Since the unit has not been built on time, engineer Varadi's second (and final) mission has now been postponed. It should be undertaken only when building work has been completed, provisionally during summer 1994 (see the revised work plan, below, Appendix 1). Terms of Reference will be as before (Varadi, 1993, Technical Report 2).



The consultant has drawn the following main conclusions:

Thus during 1994 the new unit will concentrate on production of one summer-old catfish. From November, when the new facilities are needed for successive cycles of live storage and marketing of other species, the catfish will be transferred to earth ponds for overwintering and subsequent growout to market size the following year.


The following main recommendations were made by the consultant:

  1. As described above, planned building work has not been done.

    The main objective of the building was to provide and service new fish tanks for the purposes of live fish storage and intensive fish culture. Intensive catfish culture will be done during the period July-November. Therefore, provided the promised counterpart funds are forthcoming and construction begins soon, this part of the work schedule should not be seriously affected by previous delays.

    On the other hand short-term live fish storage, whereby fish are to be accumulated, graded and cleaned in concrete tanks prior to sale, was scheduled to be undertaken during December-May. Clearly it cannot be done in the new tanks as planned because these are not ready. To partially overcome this setback, the consultant recommended that two existing 9-m diameter circular concrete tanks at the experimental fish farm should be immediately brought into service for this purpose. The tanks are normally used only during May-June, when Chinese carps are spawned in them. They are of similar design to the new units to be constructed by the project, and are situated only tens of metres from the project site. However, local project authorities decided this was not possible because:

    Consequently it seems impossible to avoid a delay in this part of the project work until the next season for live fish storage/sale, i.e., winter-spring 1994–95. The consultant therefore proposed a revised work plan (Appendix 1), which requires the approval by FAO and Government of an extension in project time scale of about six months. The project will therefore end in mid-1995 instead of December 1994 as originally planned.

  2. Quotations on those items of equipment not yet ordered but essential for the operation of the new unit must be urgently obtained, enabling FAO Beijing to place orders quickly. Construction of pieces of equipment which was agreed would be made by the Xiantao Fishery Research Institute itself, e.g., airlift pumps (Varadi, 1993, Technical Report 2), should begin immediately.

  3. The revised work plan assumes that construction work and equipping of the new facility will be completed by summer 1994. If for any reason it is not, the second, fish culture component of project activities will also be affected. Should that happen, FAO and Government must seriously question whether the objectives of the project are ever likely to be met.

  4. Intensive Fish Culturist is to make two further visits to the project. These are provisionally re-scheduled in the revised work plan (Appendix 1, below), but precise timing must be decided later according to actual project progress. His Terms of Reference will be as before (Edwards, 1993, Technical Report 1). Similarly, the Aquaculture Engineer's assignment is re-scheduled for summer 1994, provided that building work is completed by then and that all necessary equipment is on site.

  5. The Project Document makes provision for a two-week technical backstopping mission to be fielded from FAO Headquarters. The Intensive Fish Culturist suggests two alternative nominations for this:

    Subject to his availability, the obvious candidate for this assignment is Dr William Chan, Project Operations Officer, FAO Rome. Dr Chan has the necessary technical background, a full knowledge of the project's history, and is fluent in standard Chinese.

  6. It is recommended that the $US 5 000 in budget line 5000 (Supplies and Materials) can best be used to purchase feeds for channel catfish. These are manufactured commercially in Guangdong, and are available through agents in Wuhan and Xiantao. The National Project Director will obtain quotations to allow FAO to place an order.

  7. During 1994, the Government should set aside market-sized fish in ponds at the experimental fish farm for use during live fish storage and marketing trials in winter-spring 1995. The National Project Director has agreed to this.

Appendix 1


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