Boat cut plan to protect fish stock
( 2003-11-28 23:11) (China Daily)
At least 30,000 fishing boats will withdraw from China's offshore waters by 2010 to help restore declining fish stocks, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday.
In its latest plan to address overcapacity in the fishing industry, the ministry said it will use the annual 270 million yuan (US$32.5 million) in funding from the State plus local subsidies to cut the number of fishing vessels by 3,750 a year, while at the same time expanding aquaculture operations.
"We expect that in eight years, the number of vessels in China's offshore fishing fleet will be cut from 222,000 (at the end of 2002) to 192,000, while the total energy consumption of the offshore fishing industry will drop by 10 per cent,'' said Zhang Hecheng, vice-director of the ministry's Fisheries Bureau.
The total number of vessels that come from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to fish in the South China Sea will be capped at4,136 in the year 2010, the number registered in 2002, according to a ministry circular approved by the State Council.
China's fishing resources have dwindled significantly as a result of years of overfishing and water pollution, Zhang said.
To convey an idea of how the country's commercially important fish stocks have been over-exploited and their slow recovery rate, Zhang explained how the once abundant hairtails off the East China coast are now seldom seen in fishing season.
"Partly due to shrinking fish stocks, around 100,000 fishermen in (South China's) Guangdong Province have been driven into poverty in recent years, with catches too small to support their lives,'' he said in an interview.
To pursue sustainable development, the Guangdong provincial government this year pledged to provide nearly 200 million yuan (US$24 million) in special funds to reduce the number of boats in the fishing fleets and transfer the affected fishermen to other jobs, according to local fisheries bureau sources.
With regard to the around 300,000 fishermen affected by the boat reduction campaign nationwide, Zhang said local governments will help them find new jobs in aquaculture developments, processing plants and non-fishing sectors.
The aquaculture sector will be developed so that by the end of 2005, 67 per cent of the country's aquatic product output will come from aquaculture, according to Yang Jian, another official of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Stepping up from the "zero growth'' offshore-fishing policy in place since 1999, China determined to secure "negative growth'' in offshore- and inland-waters fishing starting in 2002, said Yang.
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