China to set unified fishing-off season to prevent overfishing

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/30 22:43:39

China's agriculture authorities announced on Wednesday that they plan to formulate a national schedule for fishing moratorium to end the respective date-setting in the country's four major seas, in a bid to curb massive overfishing.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) proposed to set a unified fishing-off season which starts from May 1 to September 16 in the areas of Bohai Sea, Huanghai Sea, East China Sea and areas of the South China Sea above 12 degrees North latitude.

The ministry released a statement on its official website on Wednesday to solicit public opinion on the adjustment to the country's fishing-off season in 2017. The plan will be trialed for one year.

The statement said that China has imposed an annual summer fishing ban in the Yellow Sea and East China Sea since 1995. However, the start and end date of fishing-off season varies in different sea areas, and even in different regions within one sea area, due to divergence in the fishery resources in southern and northern China seas as well as different local interests.

But the policy has led to difficulties in law enforcement.

Currently, some fishermen overfished before the current moratorium starts, said the statement.

Fishery resources are severely depleted and there are literally "no fish" in some areas such as the East China Sea, China National Radio reported in August citing the MOA. 

The country's annual catch in the seas hit 13 million tons in recent years, although the allowed volume is set between 8 million to 9 million tons, according to the ministry. It added that currently the annual freshwater catch in the Yangtze River, which accounts for 60 percent of the country's total freshwater fish output, is about 100,000 tons per year, less than a quarter of what Yangtze fishermen routinely caught in 1954.

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