Approach in contrast to the traditional species-oriented approach pursued by most competitors. Species-oriented approaches are subject to sometimes unpredictable market forces or production catastrophes (e.g. disease, extreme weather, etc.) that must be endured, often squeezing profit margins. A market-oriented approach tends to maximize profits by engendering flexibility to readily adjust target species or production scenarios to meet rapidly changing consumer demands, gluts or deficits in supply, or to exploit a niche.
At Aquafarms 1 and 2 (AF1 and AF2) in Enping, trials are underway to examine the feasibility of two very highly-valued species for the China market.
Known as the "Long hu ban (half dragon, half tiger)”in China, Pearl Grouper is a sweet, firm-fleshed and collagen-rich fish, created from a hybrid cross between the giant grouper and tiger grouper. The desired texture for Peal Grouper is a soft and oily flesh.
Currently, trials are underway at AF1 in Enping to raise Pearl Grouper to 1.2 to 1.4 kilograms from 350 to 500-gram stock purchased at local coastal farms. Live feeder fish are being used, but the facility will attempt to incorporate the use of practical diets if flesh quality is maintained. There is great market demand for groupers, particularly in China. In 2016, just over 150,000 metric tons of grouper were produced worldwide, with about 100,000 metric tons of that production in China alone. In fact, grouper is the third fastest growing finfish species in aquaculture today (just behind catfish and barramundi, respectively), with production increasing by over 165% from 2000-2016. Production is mostly in ponds or net pens. Fingerling production (wild and aquaculture) and lack of practical diet formulations are limitations to expansion. Proof of concept in APRAS tanks would be among the first demonstrated capabilities in recirculating aquaculture tank systems.
Highly prized steamed or in soup in China, this species is currently a target for large scale production at AF1 in
Known as the “wang bu liao” or, literally, “forget me not” fish in China, Empurau’s touted, unique, sweet and delicate flavor leaves its consumers with an “unforgettable” culinary experience.
Prices range depending upon which part of the river it comes from, with larger sizes (3+ kilogram) fetching the highest prices of up to USD $300-500 or more/kilogram. Smaller specimens normally sell for about $100/kilogram at retail restaurants. Even the large scales of the fish are used as a culinary treat, deep fried and salted with a consistency and texture of potato chips.
In November 2016, Tri-way staff traveled to Malaysia in search of a source of fingerlings and potential aromatic diet for use of this species and have established a partnership with one farm to test the feasibility of transported fingerling Empurau and the farm’s proprietary diet in APRAS tanks. Empurau normally grow slowly in the wild, about 0.5 kilogram/year. If the growth and aromatic diet tests are successful, the feasibility of the species to fulfill a niche market in China will be evaluated.