100,000-ton intelligent fish farming ship casts off from Qingdao

By XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong| (China Daily)| Updated : 2022-05-24

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The Conson No 1, said to be the world's first 100,000-metric-ton smart fish farming ship, enters service on Friday in Qingdao, Shandong province. CHINA DAILY

The Conson No 1-said to be the world's first 100,000-metric-ton fish farming "smart" ship-was recently delivered in Qingdao, Shandong province.

At 249.9 meters long and with a displacement of 130,000 tons, the vessel will be used as a movable fish farm on the sea for breeding high-end commercial fish, such as large yellow croaker, according to Qingdao Conson Development, the main investor.

Each year it is expected to yield 3,700 tons of high-quality fish. The first batch of large yellow croaker is expected to be harvested in autumn this year, the company said.

Experts and business executives said that the vessel represents major progress in equipment development in China and boosts the country's efforts to promote high-quality aquaculture.

Costing 450 million yuan ($67.3 million), it is designed to be fitted with 15 aquaculture tanks of about 90,000 cubic meters and a smart system that can control the temperature and salinity, according to the company.

China's marine scientists have envisaged "future marine ranching "since the 1970s, said Mai Kangsen, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a professor at Ocean University of China, "and Conson No 1 has transformed deep-sea aquaculture from a blueprint into a reality".

Mai said the vessel will trigger a technological revolution in aquaculture.

"The vessel will help update traditional aquacultural models and boost related industries including seedling farming, feed processing and sales," said Mai, adding that it will also drive the development of intelligent fishery equipment and ocean logistics support.

According to experts, the advances will allow China's marine aquaculture to expand from areas near shore to the deep sea.

"The latest trend features artificial intelligence, information technology, shipbuilding as well as artificial breeding technology," Mai said.

The plan to build such a vessel dates back 10 years, and construction on the ship started in December 2020.

The Fishery Machinery and Instrument Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences is the lead designer of the Conson No 1.

Chen Zhixin, chief scientist at the institute, said the ship utilizes a lot of domestically developed intellectual property and many technological breakthroughs were made during the design and building process, including solutions to in-vessel aquaculture, noise reduction and anticorrosion.

"Aquaculture in the vessel will also demonstrate highly efficient and environmentally friendly aquaculture and provide domestic consumers with high-quality protein food in a safe way," he said.

The vessel is set to arrive near the city of Ningde in Fujian province at the end of May to receive the first batch of eggs, and then will cruise in different sea areas according to temperature and water conditions, Qingdao Conson Development said.

Wang Jianhui, chairman of Qingdao Conson Development, said the company is cooperating with partners to prepare for the construction of the second and third of the 100,000-ton ships. Feasibility studies are in the pipeline to build a 300,000-ton ship.

In the next five to 10 years, Qingdao Conson Development will invest in the construction of 50 smart farming ships, forming 12 world-leading fleets, accompanied by 13 ships for supplying materials and oil, he said.

"I hope the smart farming ships will become a new calling card for China, just like the country's high-speed trains," he added.