China Fish postponed as industry counts cost of the Coronavirus
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The fishing tackle industry is beginning to count the cost of the Coronavirus that originated in the Wuhan region of China and has spread across the world.
The first major industry casualties were the Beijing-based China Fish trade show, which was cancelled on the eve of its 30th anniversary, and the neighbouring Bihai (China) Spring Fishing Expo. They both fell victim to a government blanket ban on exhibitions in the region.
Another major side-effect of the situation has been the delayed reopening of businesses across the country. These include those in Weihai, the capital of the world’s fishing tackle industry.
Closed to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the businesses have yet to reopen following the government’s decision to extend the holiday period in at least 24 provinces – including Shandong, where Weihai is situated – until February 10th at the earliest.
US-based fishing rod component manufacturer American Tackle is a regular award-winner at China Fish and also has an office in Weihai. Co-owner Joe Meehan told Angling International: “These are scary times in China.
“We pulled out of China Fish because the writing was on the wall; there was no way that I was going to put my employees in harm’s way. It would have been ill-advised to attend the way things were developing.
“The same applied to our office in China. It will be closed until further notice with our staff working from home.”
OEM giant Weihai Hanhigh is a rod manufacturer that has also been directly affected by the postponement of China Fish and the extended factory closures. Its President, Wang Qian Gang, said he was hopeful that the situation could be brought under control sooner rather than later and businesses back to normal by May.
“Compared to the Sars outbreak 17 years ago, the Coronavirus has spread much more quickly, but has not proved so deadly. The Government has acted decisively to limit its spread and I believe the overall situation will become clearer in the next two weeks.
“We were disappointed that China Fish was postponed because we had developed many new products which we believed would have captured the attention of visitors to the show.
“There has been talk of the show being held in May, but the problem is that even if the epidemic is over by then, I don’t believe that visitors will be 100% confident in travelling to China. It will take a little more time.”
He added that the closure of the Weihai Hanhigh factory will delay shipments to its customers. “It will certainly have an effect on our business because our suppliers are facing similar problems and that means delayed shipments. However, it is under control and we can manage it.”
Lee Seng Shoy, Managing Director of Singapore-based Pioneer Tackle, a China Fish regular, believes that the decision to postpone the show was inevitable. He said: “Before the announcement was made we were seriously considering being a ‘no show’ for a number of reasons, including the lack of attendees and risks to the health of my employees.
“I am not sure whether it will be staged this year because the virus is still not under control yet. I don’t blame the organiser for not giving a more definite timeframe because the true extent of the problem is still hard to gauge.”