Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dr Kang-Sen Mai, professor of aquaculture nutrition at the Ocean University of China, Qingdao

Dr Kang-Sen Mai is a professor specializing in aquaculture nutrition at the Ocean University of China, Qingdao. He currently focuses on fish species native to China and as a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering plays a major role in shaping the country’s aquaculture policy.
As this issue goes to press he will be speaking at the Ninth Symposium of the World’s Chinese Scientists on Nutrition and Feeding of Finfish and Shellfish (SWCSNFFS) on the subject of the sustainable development of China’s aquaculture and feed industry.
Dr Mai is also the Associate Editor (China) of International Aquafeed magazine, and has this year supervised the editing and translation of its first Chinese edition.

This interview appeared in the November December edition of International Aquafeed magazine

Tell me about the kind of research you specialize in

My major was initially aquaculture for my BSc. Since my postgraduate studies for MSc (Ocean University of China) and PhD (National University of Ireland), my research has specialised in aquaculture nutrition and feeds. I have been working in this field for more than 30 years.
What does your current research topic address?
My current research topics are mainly on the nutritional physiology and nutrient quantitative requirements of the representative mariculture species in China, such as turbot, yellow croaker, seabass, and groupers.
I am interested particularly in the comparative studies on the protein metabolism among carnivorous, omnivorous and herbivorous fish, and the replacement of fishmeal by alternative protein sources in their feeds.

How important is SWCSNFFS for Chinese aquaculture science?

SWCSNFFS has made great contributions to Chinese aquaculture science. It is well known that China has a 3000-year history of aquaculture. However, the rapid development of Chinese aquaculture took place only after the establishment of China’s aquafeed industry in 1980s. As I have said, there is no modern aquaculture without a modern aquafeed industry.
The first SWCSNFFS was held in Guangzhou in 1992 with only about 100 participants. Now there are nearly 1,000 participants, from both academia and industry. Thus, SWCSNFFS's influence has obviously been growing. It has been indicated that the participants benefit a lot from their attendance of the symposium.
There are three major reasons, I think, for the success of SWCSNFFS. Firstly, in order to let more participants focus on a professional symposium, we decided to combine SWCSNFFS with the annual meeting of the China Society of Fisheries’ Subcommittee on Nutrition and Feed in 2003. Secondly, we have always insisted on the principle that SWCSNFFS is a purely academic conference, not allowing too strong a commercial colour, such as product exhibitions or marketing activities. Thirdly, SWCSNFFS invites not only global Chinese aquaculture nutritionists, but also the most famous non-Chinese scientists in aquaculture nutrition around the world, making SWCSNFFS to become one of the world’s really open communication platforms in aquaculture nutrition and feed.

What can the rest of the world learn from the symposium that it can't learn anywhere else?

China is the most important country for aquaculture in the world. Most challenges to the sustainable development to global aquaculture, especially those related to aquafeeds, are usually first faced by China. Hence, the rest of the world can learn the methodologies and experiences from China to overcome these challenges. They can also play the role of early warning for other countries. In addition, the above-mentioned three successful experiences of this symposium can also be learned by other countries.

What is the biggest emerging problem for Chinese aquaculture?

After 30 years of rapid development, Chinese aquaculture is facing a series of emerging problems. Shortages in farming space and raw materials for feed, water quality deterioration, and the safety of aquaculture products are considered to be the most critical factors that impede the sustainability of Chinese aquaculture.
Chinese aquaculture produces over 60 percent of the world's total production volume. How is China playing a role in developing sustainable practices around the world?
As I mentioned above, since China is the biggest country for aquaculture, making its sustainable development is the duty of China. All of its successful experiences to solve the emerging problems can play a role in developing sustainable practices around the world.

How can the feed industry stay sustainable in the face of rising demand from the global population?

In my opinion, in order to make the feed industry sustainable to meet the rising demand of the global population, we must develop new technologies to use a wider range of new feed ingredients: in particular to reduce and even go without marine sources of raw materials, such as fish meal or fish oil. We must also improve feed efficiency, reduce environmental pollution and ensure food quality and safety.

Welcome aboard the magazine as our new Associate Editor for China. Do you have any comments on the future?

From my point of view, International Aquafeed should become a real international magazine. It should be a medium that lets China’s academia and industry, which produces more than 60 percent of the world’s aquafeeds, get to know well the new developments in this field outside of China. At the same time it should also let the world know what is happening in China, allowing this publication to have a really global influence.

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