In the East China Sea of 1980s, one trawl could harvest over a dozen tons of yellow croaker, whereas today it is even easier to find an antique than trying to catch the fish. Unknown disease outbreaks and environmental degradation bewilder once-flourishing seafood producers. While China has transformed itself from a net seafood exporter to a major consumer of imported seafood, there is still a lack of effective market mechanism and management instrument to ensure food safety, responsible sourcing and consumption.
Meanwhile, over half of coastal wetlands were lost in the course of China’s rapid urbanization in the past decades. Aggravated inshore pollution and coastal erosion laid huge burdens on marine ecosystems. Deterioration of coastal zones and marine environment have hindered sustainable development of coastal China.
In the face of such complicated and massive challenges on marine environment, the Chinese government, industry and public research institutes are all playing their unique roles in different fields. Nonetheless, China still needs a role of third party, which is independent, professional and objective, to supplement existing research and practice. Learning from international experience, we believe that non-government and non-profit organization is the best embodiment of such institution.
An organization to perform the role shall respect China’s reality and culture, and have broader knowledge of local politics and working models. It shall understand development needs of local industry, society and ecological environment, and be capable of capturing market trends and inspiring industry power. The organization shall conduct baseline research, develop technical tools and implement on-the-ground projects with pragmatic approaches. It shall fulfil its mission of knowledge sharing, talent cultivation and institutional capability building.
China Blue was set up in responding the emerging demand of institutional infrastructure for marine and fisheries sustainability in China. Ms. Han Han, Founder and Executive Director of China Blue, served as China Director and Program Manager at the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) between 2010 and 2015. Aware of the urgency and necessity of eliminating negative environmental and social impacts brought by overfishing and poor aquaculture practices, Ms. Han has advocated for multi-stakeholder dialogues and regional management over fishery resources through SFP’s Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) and Aquaculture Improvement Projects (AIPs) in China. As the projects progressed, given the state of the country and industry distinct from the western counterparts, she increasingly realized the urgent need of a Chinese team and localization of improvement model. Thus, in early 2015, Ms. Han founded China Blue, in hope of promoting sustainable fisheries and ocean conservation in China through a local NGO in a close collaboration with Chinese academia, government and industry.