Caixin
Nov 29, 2016 06:15 PM
ENVIRONMENT

Tianjin Fisheries Continue Using Illegal Chemicals Amid Dearth of Checks

(Beijing) — Many private fisheries in Tianjin’s Tanggu riverside district are using illegal chemicals to keep their farmed fish alive, a report said on Tuesday.

Commercial fish farms in Tanggu can contain up to 6,000 fish per acre, a fishery owner speaking under the pseudonym Chen Ming told the Beijing News. Fish reared in such crowded conditions are especially vulnerable to contagious diseases, so each farm receives seven or eight rounds of chemical treatments a year, Chen said.

These treatments include disinfectants, antibiotics, and drugs meant for plants. “We never eat our own fish,” Chen said.

Tanggu has over 100 fish farms.

The news comes as live fish have been vanishing from the capital’s supermarkets after word got out that the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) was planning to conduct random inspections on aquaculture products in 12 Chinese cities.

On Thursday, the CFDA responded to rumors about the disappearing fish by releasing a detailed plan of their upcoming inspections. Agency staff members told Caixin that dwindling fish stocks were due to supermarkets’ worries over the inspections, and not large-scale contamination of live fish.

The planned CFDA inspections of live freshwater fish will include tests for traces of malachite green, an antimicrobial compound used in dyes. Livestock producers in China are banned from using malachite green on their animals. But fishery owners in Tanggu can easily get away with using it because their fish are rarely inspected, the Beijing News said.

Malachite green has been linked to cancer and DNA damage, according to the European Food Safety Authority. The overuse of antibiotics by fishery owners could also “present a great risk to humans” by encouraging the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, Beijing Yujing Biotechnology Co. executive Jiang Huojin told Caixin.

A single 10-acre fishery in Tanggu can produce more than 10,000 kg of fish. The fish are sold at markets in Tianjin and in neighboring provinces and cities, the Beijing News reported, without saying if Beijing was one of the bordering cities where Tanggu fish were sold.

Contact editor Calum Gordon (calum@caixin.com)

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