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Fishermen catch new breaks after Yangtze ban

China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-03 09:12

Wang Chaosheng nets fish at a pond in Sinan county in Southwest China's Guizhou province. [Photo/Xinhua]

GUIYANG — During the just-ended Spring Festival holiday, former fisherman Wang Chaosheng kept himself busy tending to his fish ponds, adding new fish fry and welcoming visitors wanting to pay to net their own catch to take home with them.

Living in Sinan county in Southwest China's Guizhou province, the 60-year-old had spent 27 years as a fisherman on the Wujiang River, a tributary of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

In rural areas, most villagers relied on farming for their main income. But for Wang, the majority of the family income came from fishing.

He sold his catches of fresh wild fish in the village, and if any were left over he transported them to the county seat and sold them there.

Working hard day and night in his younger years, Wang could make 300,000 yuan to 400,000 yuan ($45,000 to $60,000) a year at most.

But Wang's life changed on Jan 1, 2021, when the government introduced a 10-year fishing ban on the Yangtze for ecological conservation and green development.

Wujiang River flows through nearly half the townships of Sinan county, and so before the fishing ban began, the county started putting measures in place to protect the welfare of the fishermen.

According to the local fishery department, since 2019, a total of 121 households that previously depended on fishing have bid it farewell, and most of which have switched to more ecologically friendly fish farming.

Wang is one of the fishermen that switched.

Renting over half a hectare of land to build ponds, the ex-fisherman now farms four to five fish species, such as grass carp and catfish.

Though he misses the old days of fishing, he understands that abandoning his boat "helps protect the environment" and that his new job is stable and more sustainable.

The county fishery department provided high-quality fry for the fishermen who changed jobs and built sales channels to help them sell fresh fish.

To ensure that fish farming continues to produce benefits, county fishery department technicians often visit villages to provide guidance on how to change the water and prevent diseases.

Because of the high quality of the fish in his ponds, Wang's business attracts many fishing enthusiasts.

There is no charge, and tourists only need to buy the fish on the hook according to its weight — 20 to 100 yuan per kilogram.

"I used to catch fish, and now I keep fish. I'm still doing my job," Wang said.


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