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Overfishing depletes fish stocks in E. China Sea

05-31-2013 14:39 BJT

CCTV reporter Ying Yiyuan

The fish population in the East China Sea has been dwindling. It’s getting more common for fishermen to return to the harbor with almost no catch. Many say over-fishing has caused the problem.

Late at night, the sea is lit up. A light seining boat is out catching fish. The high power light bulbs can illuminate 50 meters down into the water, attracting fish to the net. These shots were filmed by fisherman Ruo Rihua who was on board. Over ten tons of fish are processed. All of the fish are small, weighing less than 50 grams each.

Fisherman Ruo Rihua said,  “The light attracts everything, big and small. These fish are too small, it’s worrying, but we have to make money.”
In a light seining boat, the power of one light bulb is between 3000 and 5000 watts. At least 100 of these light bulbs have been installed for above and under the water. Many fishermen are using more powerful light bulbs, in order to catch more fish.

 “At the moment there’s no regulation to restrict the use of lights in fishing,” Miao Wenjun, Head of Inspection Dept., Wenling Oceanic & Fishery Bureau, said.

Back by the dock, women are fixing the fishing nets. The net size is huge, but the size of the mesh is tiny.

According to regulations, the standard mesh size should be no smaller than 54 millimeters. But in reality, most fishermen use nets with a mesh size of only 15 to 20 millimeters. There’s poor enforcement of regulations in the fishing industry here.

“There are very few checks on the proportion of young fish caught, or the mesh size used. There are regulations, but they’re not enforced,” Ding Lifa, Chief of Fishery Section, Wenling Oceanic & Fishery Bureau, said.

Apart from over-fishing, pollution and land reclamation are also causing the severe depletion of fish resources. One indicator of how drastic the situation has become is the drop in the number of Belt Fish in the East China Sea, by 40% last year alone.

Fisherman Guo Wenbiao said, “We should not only be thinking about how much we earn now. We have to think about our next generation, we have to leave some fish for our children.”

Many of the fishermen here have proposed an extension of the fishing moratorium. Zhejiang government’s measures to protect fish will be unveiled in June.


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