Key Takeaways

  • One of the world’s first regional aquaculture improvement projects.
  • Industry-led by seafood companies and tilapia farmers.
  • Supports more than 500 farmers and dozens of tilapia farms.

SFP and local tilapia farmers in Hainan province, China, launched one of the first regional, industry-led aquaculture improvement projects (AIP). Now led by the Hainan Tilapia Sustainability Alliance (HTSA) and supported by Chinese NGO China Blue, the AIP includes more than 500 farmers producing about 100,000 tonnes of farmed tilapia per year.

An industry-led initiative

In 2012, key tilapia farmers, processors, and feed and seed producers from Hainan, along with major seafood buyers from North America, formed an Aquaculture Policy Roundtable to explore ways to improve the sustainability of tilapia farming in the region. 

The roundtable eventually became the HTSA, the first independent, industry-led, multi-stakeholder association to promote sustainable seafood production in China. Its leadership includes both seafood company representatives and individual farmers. HTSA worked with farmers’ groups and farming co-ops to establish a Code of Good Practice that outlines best management practices at the farm and zonal levels. 

Establishing the AIP

In 2014, HTSA launched the AIP with 10 pilot farms in Hainan, seeking to address the challenges of sustainability, environmental impacts, and disease control through zonal management. With support from The Fishin' Co, many of the farms under the AIP subsequently went through the Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) iBAP process and later became BAP certified. 

Today, dozens of pilot farms are implementing HTSA’s Code of Good Practice, and more than 500 farmers have received technical and institutional training from the Association.

China’s important role in global aquaculture

China is the world’s leading tilapia-farming region, producing nearly two million tonnes per year, or about a third of global production. The US is a primary export market for Chinese tilapia, along with Europe, South America, and Africa.

Hainan AIP participants

Photos courtesy of China Blue and HTSA