The Atlantic shoreline of Clew Bay in County Mayo, Ireland, looks both pristine and wild in the giant photo billboards at the Xanadu Hotel in Guangzhou, one of China’s wealthiest cities. At a recent Irish seafood marketing event at the hotel hosted by Irish product-marketing agency Bord Bia, and broadcast on the Chinese Weibo social media platform, the images displayed alongside captions describing a “Green Isle” of pure waters that feed oysters, lobsters, and shrimp.

China is the world’s biggest seafood market, with a special appetite for exotic seafood and a subset of consumers willing to pay premium prices for product that can be certified as coming from clean ocean waters. Hence Bord Bia’s marketing campaigns in hotels frequented by the country’s wealthy. Diners at the Xanadu were, after all, paying premium prices. An oyster from Europe costs anywhere between USD 10 and USD 30 (EUR 9 and EUR 38) in seafood restaurants in China.

Some photos at the Xanadu were taken on the coast of Achill Island, where oyster farmer Hugh O’Malley has been packing his Achill Island Oysters for Chinese buyers. In 2014, O’Malley sold his software business to return to his roots in Mayo on the lightly-populated west coast. O’Malley told SeafoodSource he grew up seeing the wild-catch fisheries sector wilt with collapsing fish stocks, and now sees aquaculture as a sustainable replacement.