A 10-year commercial fishing ban has been imposed on the Yangtze River in an attempt the revive the dwindling fish population.
The Chinese government has imposed a 10-year commercial fishing ban in the Yangtze River to combat "across-the-board" declines in the populations of rare species like the Chinese sturgeon.
As it came into effect on 1 January 2020, it is hoped that the ban will tackle the problems of dwindling fish stocks and declining biodiversity in the 6,300m river. It will be applied at 332 conservation sites along the river and be extended to cover the main river course and key tributaries by 1 January 2021.
According to Yu Zhenkang, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, "The fishing ban is a key measure to effectively curb the decline of the river's ecosystem and any further drop in biodiversity."
He added that the dire situation that exists for the marine life within the Yangtze River was exasperated by dam-building, pollution, overfishing, river transport and dredging. The fishermen would sometimes use fishing nets with smaller holes and even make use of explosives or electrocution, which were illegal.
Some 280,000 fishermen in 10 provinces are affected by the ban. Funds have been allocated by the government to help them to find alternative work and to receive welfare aid and retraining.
Cao Wenxuan, a marine biologist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Hydrobiology, stated that the ban was urgently needed, adding that "There’s far fewer fish than decades ago. What’s more, the fish being caught now are much smaller and weigh much less than before."
Before the 10-year ban, the government had imposed a seasonal fishing ban which would run for three to four months every spring, since 2003. This proved to be inadequate as it was too short. Cao explained, “As soon as it ended every year, it was a bonanza for the fishermen. But they only caught small fish, some were only 10cm long, and … many people would process these fish fry into animal feed.”
To reinforce the 10-year ban, the river authorities would use speedboats, drones and video surveillance, and fishermen would be recruited to patrol the river.