Fish distribution and marketing are major problems in most developing countries. While the Mission did not examine these questions in detail, there seemed to be few problems in China.
The Chinese like fresh fish and most of the freshwater fish is sold this way. Ice is seldom used as the fish are not transported over long distances. A considerable portion is marketed live, especially in southern China.
Most people's communes produce and supply their own fish requirements. Special efforts are now being made to intensify fish production near the cities to minimize transport and supply problems. The Mission was told that city authorities know the daily requirements of their populations and only enough fish are harvested to meet these requirements.
A similar principle appears to govern the harvesting of vegetables. They are gathered usually the day or night before being carted into the city.
Around the cities and towns, the full fishery potential of small and medium-sized lakes is realized by combining fish production with animal husbandry and vegetable crops.
The State has purchasing centres which handle fish marketing. In Le Liu People's Commune in Kwangtung Province, which the Mission visited, there are three State Fish Purchasing Centres. Fish produced in the Commune are generally transported live from the production area in small boats (3–5 tons) with fish compartments in the perforated hull. On arrival at the Fish Purchasing Centre, the fish are sorted according to species, weighed and transferred to a bigger (30-ton) transport boat, also with a perforated hull to supply water to fish compartments. This boat carries fish to the market areas in Canton. Some fish are subsequently exported, still alive, to Hong Kong markets.
The market size of the fish is at least 1.0–1.5 kg. Prices are fixed by the State and the average price is about Yuan 0.76 (U.S.$ 0.38) per kg.
A comparison of the retail price of fish in the Shanghai area, with other basic food commodities is as follows:
|Food Item||Retail Price|
(in Yuan per kg)
|Pork (first grade)||2.4|
|Pork (third grade)||1.60–1.80|
|Duck||(a little cheaper than chicken)|
The Mission was informed that there is very little processing of freshwater fish, at least of the culture species. Such processing as is done is negligible, usually limited to small and/or wild fishes from capture fisheries.
At the Canton Trade Fair, the Mission did see samples of canned freshwater fish. These were silver carp with meat filling, silver carp in tomato sauce, and fried carp with scallions.