World-Class Fish Cultivation Technique
Inquiries from the US and China as well as Japan
Tomato clownfish, a bright orange-red fish with one distinguishable vertical white stripe, clarkii clownfish with a beautiful combination of yellow and brown, and reidi seahorse, a.k.a. the queen of sea horses for a splendid figure…. Aquariums at the Center of Ornamentals, Reefs & Aquariums (CORA) boast shoals of young tropical fishes with colorful patterns. They are located on the seaside of Jongdal-ri in Gujwa-eup, Jeju (the east end of the Jeju Island). CORA is the only place where aquarium fishes are farmed in Korea. And it is putting spurs to pioneering the overseas markets from this year.
Korea’s Only Aquarium Fish Farm
RHO Sum, CEO of CORA, who received an honorable title of the best marine expert from the Korean Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MIFAFF), is at the vanguard of the study of aquarium fishes. The center possesses the artificial aquatic cultivation technique for 16 species of fancy fish. Back in 1967, Mr. Rho started his career as a fishery researcher working at the department supporting the fisheries in the Yeosu region at the National Fisheries Research & Development Agency. Since the early 2000s, Mr. Rho, who had devoted his life to the research of sea creatures, has become interested in the seawater fancy fishes.
Mr. Rho first started studying the aquarium fishes as part of the governmental R&D project in 2001 when he was working as a professor in the School of Marine Biomedical Sciences at Jeju National University. He succeeded in developing the artificial nursery technology for three varieties of the clown fish. To commercialize this technology, he established CORA with his own funds in August, 2005. Afterwards, he was making efforts to incubate the fishes for three years, and was finally able to sell the fishes in 2008 when he could ensure that the production was stable.
Unlike edible fishes, fancy fishes are for ornamental purposes and the industry of it is considered to be a higher value-added business.
As the supply of the fishes from Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, has gone down due to reckless overfishing and the relevant international regulations have become stricter, the demand for the fish species raised on the farms is increasing. Sea horse, in particular, is classified under the endangered species group and thus commercial dealing is banned. So only the farmed sea horse can be traded internationally, which gives a scarcity value to the fish. That’s why Mr. Rho sees the fancy fish business as a new blue ocean.
Healthier and More Colorful than Wild Ones
Currently, the varieties of fancy fish which Mr. Rho can farm artificially include a total of 16 kinds - 10 of the clown fish and 6 of the sea horse. Among these, CORA produces 7 kinds of clown fish (cinnamon, tomato, saddleback, fire, ocellaris, clarkii, and maroon) and 4 kinds of sea horse (reidi, black kuda, barbouri, and big-belly). The annual production reaches 100,000 fish. CORA employs an eco-friendly re-circulating culture system and an advanced system of drawing undersea water (at 17.5℃) and heating it to 25~27℃ in order to set up the optimal conditions. Thanks to these systems, the farmed fishes are healthier and boast more vivid colors than the wild ones. One of the merits of the farmed fishes is that everybody can raise the fishes without much difficulty as the fishes are fed on assorted feed available on the market.
And the fishes can survive for up to 52 hours in an oxygen-injected vinyl pack during air transportation.
Last April, CORA exported 100 sea horses and 600 clown fish to Japan, the kingdom of fancy fish. Recently, the center has been getting a lot of orders from the United States, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and some countries in Europe.
Among these markets, Mr. Rho has decided to focus on the Chinese market.
He said that in China, since olden times, the sea horse has been used not only for the ornamental purpose but for the eating purpose as the sea creature is thought to help pregnant women ease the difficult delivery and boost the energy. Indeed, as much as 80 percent of the sea horse produced around the world is purchased in China.
Plan for the Construction of Aquarium Fish Industrial Complex and Theme Park
Recently, CORA has been devoting itself to building up a fancy fish industrial complex and theme park in cooperation with the Jeju municipality. To set up, a whopping KRW10 billion will be invested. Mr. Rho said that CORA, with its world-class fish farming technology, can produce 20 roes per day all year round. He added, “We plan to construct a theme park where visitors can observe the entire growth process of fancy fish, from hatching to growing, and experience feeding the fishes.” He is aspiring to make this promising park one of the new tourist attractions of Jeju Island.
Park Sung Eun email@example.com
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