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Fishery thrives in landlocked Xinjiang

By AYBEK ASKHAR | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-01-19 09:06

Two fishermen show fish they caught in Bohu county of Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Aug 8, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

After hatching in spring, the whitefish fingerlings are placed in a new pond where they can grow 4 centimeters in the first month.

"It's a remarkable achievement since the fish could only grow 2 centimeters in three months at our previous breeding workshop when they were first introduced here," Hou said.

In June, most of the surviving fish are put into the lake, with the rest bought and raised by local farmers.

"We offer those mature fingerlings to the farmers every year at a very low price, and they can sell the fish in the market once they reach 700 grams, which usually takes two years, or they can sell them to us for a little higher than the buy-in price," Ma said.

Fish growing in the lake take three to four years to reach the optimum marketable weight of more than a kilogram.

After years of learning and improving fishery techniques, the lake has become an important cold-water fish production base, with the company now one of China's largest exporters of northern whitefish with annual output of more than 400 metric tons.

As output increased, the company decided to improve the industrial chain by building an 8,000-square-meter processing factory in 2015. Ma said it meets high design standards set by the European Union.

"We are able to make those fish into packaged goods once they are caught and can deliver to any restaurant in need across the country within 24 hours," he said.

The company has also invited professional caviar makers from Finland to visit every year since 2016 to teach its workers how to make caviar.

"Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have stopped exporting the caviar to European countries, but in 2019 the export volume reached 15 tons," Ma said. "I believe there will be more after everything is back to normal."

Today, Sayram has also become a popular stop for visitors. When traveling by the lake, they can always find food trucks selling fresh fish products.

"The fish products sold by the trucks are northern whitefish just caught from the lake," Ma said. "And the trucks making real money are run by the locals."

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