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4,838 illegal fishing suspects captured along Yangtze

By Yang Zekun | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-09-30 08:32
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Fishing boats are demolished at a port in Zigui, Hubei province, in July. Authorities gathered over 500 fishing boats to either demolish or adapt into sightseeing vessels. ZHENG JIAYU/FOR CHINA DAILY

Police had solved 3,292 criminal cases and captured 4,838 suspects in a campaign against illegal fishing in the Yangtze River Basin by the end of September, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.

Police have also seized more than 1,500 vessels involved, over 23,000 sets of fishing gear and more than 77,000 kilograms of fish since the launch of the campaign in July.

On Jan 1, the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council banned productive fishing in 332 aquatic life reserves along the Yangtze River. A moratorium on fishing in the river's major tributaries, including Minjiang, Tuojiang and Hanjiang rivers, as well as lakes connecting with the river, including the Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake, will be put in place for 10 years, starting Jan 1, 2021.

Public security organs at all levels in provinces along the Yangtze have worked with other departments, focusing on related illegal activities including capturing, trafficking and purchasing fish.

Joint working groups sent by the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs have visited more than 154,000 fishermen to ensure they have quit their jobs and been offered proper alternatives, as well as 21,000 fishing sites to publicize the ban. They have also collected about 2,300 tips regarding illegal fishing in the river, according to the ministry.

Additionally, seven working groups also conducted the first joint inspection of 14 provinces and cities along the Yangtze over 10 days and informed local authorities of problems they detect. Authorities were urged to promptly rectify any issues.

Li Jingsheng, director of the Public Security Ministry's security administration bureau, said that the 10-year fishing ban in the Yangtze was an important decision for the long-term interests of the nation and a key measure to reverse the trend of ecological and environmental deterioration in the river.

Over the past three months, the number of detected illegal fishing cases in the river has been 1.5 times higher than the number of such cases detected all of last year, Li said.

The ministry will work with other departments to strengthen law enforcement and supervision to address the issue of manufacturing and sales of banned fishing gear. It has set up video surveillance in key waters and has carried out drone inspections. Further, it has established platforms for people to report illegal fishing.

Anyone with information about people involved with such activities can provide tips 24 hours a day by calling 010-66262044, or by sending private messages to "China Police Online" through social media platforms Sina Weibo and WeChat. Those who provide useful tips will be rewarded, the ministry said.

Qian Xiongfei, deputy director of the ministry's security administration bureau, said that illegal fishing in the Yangtze River Basin has been strongly discouraged since the launch of the campaign, but the crime has not been fundamentally eradicated.

Eating fish caught from the river has been common practice for a long time, Qian said. Driven by interests, some restaurants promote river fish to attract customers and illegally sell it, emboldening the criminal activity.

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