The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has issued a new set of regulations (in Chinese) prohibiting commercial fishing in key areas along the Yangtze River for the next 10 years. The ban took effect in China on January 1, and comes at a critical moment for the Yangtze’s fish stocks and biodiversity, which is suffering from overfishing and excessive pollution.
- The fishing moratorium will be enforced in 332 conservation areas in the Yangtze Basin. By the end of this year, the ban will be extended to all natural waterways along the main stem and major tributaries of the river, such as Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake.
- 110,000 fishing boats will be scrapped, and 280,000 fishermen will have to quit their ancestral line of work, according to Xinhua. The government will compensate fishermen who have lost their jobs with onetime payments of up to 60,000 yuan ($8,590) per household.
- China has been toughening restrictions on commercial fishing on the Yangtze since 2002, when it introduced a seasonal fishing ban that lasted three months each year, which was extended to four months in 2016.
- Nonetheless, in 2018, the Global Times reported that the population of the four major types of freshwater fish in the Yangtze River — herring, grass carp, silver carp, and bighead carp — had decreased by more than 90 percent since the 1980s.
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