SINGAPORE – A “scallopocalypse” is laying waste to the popular delicacy in the Yellow Sea.
Giant Chinese seafood supplier Zhangzidao Group said this week it had found that more than 80 percent of the scallops at a farm in the sea between China and the Koreas had died due to “unidentified” causes.
The book value of the affected mollusks is 300 million yuan ($43 million), the company said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange. It’s still assessing the damage, and the cause of death is unknown though believed to be natural, it said.
Zhangzidao’s “ocean ranch” supplies more than 50,000 tons of scallops a year, according to its official website. Just over 100,000 tons of the bivalve were traded globally in 2018, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with China accounting for one third of both imports and exports.
The ecological environment in the North Yellow Sea is complicated and constantly changing, Zhangzidao said in its statement. Scallops accounted for 6 percent of total revenue in the first nine months of this year, it said.
Shenzhen-listed Zhangzidao Group, which calls itself an “undersea bank,” has come under fire in the past for its declining scallop output. The average yield for the mollusks that started seeding in 2018 is expected to have dropped to about 3.5 kg per mu (about two-thirds of a hectare) as a result of the deaths, down from 25.61 kg in the first 10 months of this year, the company said.