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The Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security
in China


Song Zhiwen

1. Introduction

1.1 Physical Features

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is located in the eastern part of Asia and borders the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. The total land area of China is 9.6 million square kilometers, ranking third largest in the world. The mainland extends more than 5,000 km from east to west and over 5,500 km from north to south. China is contiguous to the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Tadjakstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam and her mainland boundary line is approximately 20,000 km. A map of China is shown in Figure 1.

China borders the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China Seas on the east and south. The Bohai is an inner sea. The Huanghai or Yellow, East China and South China Seas are all continental apron seas in the northwest and western Pacific Ocean. The total area of the four seas is about 4.7 million km2. The continental shelf, within an isobath of 200 m, covers about 1.5 million km2. The coastline of China is more than 18,000 km, starting from the mouth of the Yalujiang River in the north, and stretching southward to the mouth of the Beilun River. There are over 5,400 islands scattered in the sea area with Taiwan Province of China being the largest one, followed by Hainan, Changming, Zhanshan, Donghai, Haitan, Dongshan, etc. Eighty percent of the islands are scattered over the sea area to the south of the Yangtze River and twenty percent to the north. The coastline of the islands is over 14,000 km. There are numerous rivers along the coast with a total of 1,880 billion m3 of runoff into the sea every year. This brings a large quantity of organic material which forms a superior habitat for marine animals and plants. Many bays and gulfs are distributed along the coast.

The Chinese land mass is low in the east and high in the west with the highest area being the Qinghai-Xizang plateau which is more than 4,000 m above sea level. Within the boundaries of the plateau, the river system is well developed and the Yangtze, Yellow and the Yarlung Zangbo Rivers originate here. The plateau extends eastward to Mount Da Xinganling, Mount Tai Hang, Wu Mountain, and the Wu Ling Mountain range which form the next area, which is 1,000-2,000 m above sea level. The Helongjiang and Pearl Rivers originate in this area. Further eastward, there are vast plains and low-lying hilly land. The North-East, northern China and the lower Yangtze are major plains which cover about one tenth of China's territory and are the most densely populated areas. China can be roughly divided into five regions: mountainous, 33 percent; plateaus, 26 percent; basins, 19 percent; plains, 12 percent and hilly areas, 10 percent. The plains and basins are densely covered with rivers, small reservoirs and ponds which have become the most important areas for freshwater fisheries.

China has numerous rivers, with over 50,000 of them each having a drainage area of 100 km2 or more. There are 104 rivers which are 300 km in length and 22 of 1,000 km. The total water area of the rivers is about 12 million ha, making up 45 percent of the total inland water area. The major rivers include the Yangtze (6,300 km), the Yellow or Huanghui (5,464 km), the Helongjiang (3,101 km), the Pearl (2,214 km), and the Huaihe (1,000 km).

China has more than 2,800 lakes with a water surface area of over 1 km2 each. The total water area is approximately 75,610 km2, and includes 16 large lakes: Boyang (3,583 km2), Dongting (2,820 km2), Taihu (2,425 km2), Hongze (1,960 km2), Chaohu (820 km2), etc. The lakes are mainly scattered over the eastern plains and the Qinghai-Xizang plateau. In the Mengxin region, the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau and the northeastern region, there are also many lakes. Saltwater lakes are mainly found in west China where the weather is dry and cold.

Reservoirs, totalling 84,775, have been built throughout the country with a total water storage capacity of about 479.7 billion m3. There are 387 large reservoirs, each having a water storage capacity of more than 100 million m3; 2,593 medium-sized reservoirs, having a water storage capacity of 10-100 million m3 and 81,795 small reservoirs, having a water storage capacity of 0.1-10 million m3. Most of the reservoirs were built to regulate runoff or river flow, and to store water for agriculture, industrial and urban use. Now increasing attention is being given to the use of these reservoirs for fish farming.

1.2 Climate

China covers 50 degrees of latitude with tropical, subtropical and temperate zones, and more than 60 degrees of longitude. The country from east to west is divided into humid, subhumid, semiarid and arid climate zones. The monsoons have a strong influence on the climate; from May to September, the south wind blows from the southern Pacific and Indian Oceans bringing plenty of warm, moist air so the yearly rainfall all over the country is mainly concentrated in this period. From September/October till March/April of the following year, the north wind comes from Asian and European inner lands and blows hard, then gradually abates to the south. This results in a cold dry winter and a great temperature difference between north and south. The alternation of warm air in the south and cold, dry air in the north determines the climate in different parts of the country, particularly in the distribution of temperature and rainfall.

Rainfall is concentrated mostly in summer and decreases gradually from the south-east to the north-west. An annual precipitation line of 400 mm slanting from Daxinganling in the North-East through Zhangjiakou and Lanzhou to Lasa in the South-West divides the country into the south-eastern part and the north-western part. The semi-wet and semi-dry regions are also divided by this line. The farther to the east, the more plentiful the rainfall. An 800 isohyle conforms approximately to the line from Qinling to Huaihe and forms the dividing line of the humid and the subhumid regions. The Yangtze Basin has an annual precipitation of 1,000-1,600 mm while some places in Guangdong province and Taiwan Province of China have 2,000 mm or more, but the precipitation in most places in the north-west is below 250 mm. The yearly average rainfall of the country is about 630 mm or 6,000 billion m3, of which 2,600 billion m3 form the water resources of the country.

Typhoons occur in China mainly in July, August and September. The area from Liaoning Province in the north to the coastal areas in the south may be hit by typhoons every year thus causing great damage. The strong winter winds following cold waves may cause the temperature to decrease by more than 10 degrees centigrade within 24 hours. And in northern China and the Yangtze basin, a strong wind is usually accompanied by rain, snow and frost; while in south China, it is rainy. The weather can cause damage to agriculture production.

1.3 Socio-economic Conditions

China has 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 3 cities under the direct jurisdiction of the central government (Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai). Within the provinces, there are 191 cities, 148 prefectures and 2,171 county administrative units including 323 municipalities considered administratively as counties (the cities and municipalities of Taiwan Province of China are not included).

China has 56 ethnic groups, of which the Han account for 94 percent of the total population, followed by the Manchu, Mongolian, Hui, and Zang minority groups. Mandarin is the most commonly used language.

In 1995, China had a total population of 1.21 billion or a density of 123/km2. This is more than one fifth of mankind. The Chinese Government has paid the greatest attention to controlling population growth and has treated it as a basic state policy in recent years. The population growth rate dropped gradually from 1.44 percent in 1990 to 1.05 percent in 1995.

The first three years after the founding of the People's Republic of China was an economic restoration period (1949-1952). In 1953, the State implemented the First Five-Year Plan (1953-1957) for the national economy and social development, with great success. During the years 1966-1976, the development of the national economy was stagnant. Then it developed once again through reform and opening to the outside world. In 1995, the Chinese GDP reached 5,826.1 billion yuan (RMB), 6.5 times the 775.6 billion yuan in 1978.

Since the implementation of the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, the country's economic system has been largely a market-oriented one. A household production responsibility system has developed from collectivization and communization. In the coastal areas (Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, Xiamen, Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, etc.) economic development zones have been established. These economic development zones and joint ventures have drawn a large input of foreign capital, which has helped to accelerate fisheries production. From 1991 to 1995, the national economy increased at a rate of 12 percent. At the same time, however, economic growth resulted in serious inflation which in 1994 went up to 21.7 percent. In 1995 it came down to 14.8 percent, while the economic growth rate remained at 12 percent. In 1996 the growth rate of the national economy was 9.7 percent, while the inflation rate was down to 6.1 percent. In spite of the fact that the national economy has developed very fast and great changes have taken place, China is still a developing country.

Agriculture is the foundation and most important sector of China's economy. In 1995, there were 0.23 billion agricultural households, and 0.86 billion agricultural workers, making up 70.9 percent of the total population. The agriculture sector includes crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries, all of which contribute 34.9 percent of the country's GDP. In 1978, the agricultural GDP was only 139.7 billion yuan; by the end of 1995, it had reached 2,034.08 billion yuan of which food grains and crops accounted for 1,188.46 billion yuan or 63.7 percent; forestry, 70.99 billion yuan or 4.3 percent; livestock, 604.49 billion yuan or 23.5 percent; and fisheries, 170.13 billion yuan or 8.5 percent.

2. Fisheries Sector

2.1 Present Situation in Relation to Other Sectors

During the period from 1949 to 1957, Chinese fisheries was restored and began to develop. In 1949, the total fisheries production was 447,927 mt. After three years of hard work, at the end of 1952, the total output was 1.66 million mt, which exceeded the highest output of the past. In the course of the first Five-Year Plan (1953-1957), fisheries production increased at an average annual rate of 13.3 percent and in 1957 rose to 3.11 million mt. But at the end of the second Five-Year Plan, it dropped to 2.28 million mt. In the three-year readjustment period (1963-1965), fisheries production went up again at an average annual increase of 9.3 percent. In the following three Five-Year Plans (1966-1980), the yearly production increased at an average rate of 1.3 percent, 6.7 percent, and 0.4 percent respectively. During the 25 years from 1953 to 1978, the total production of fisheries increased by 2.75 million mt, only an average increase of 110,000 mt/year (Table 1).

In 1978, reform started and the government placed unprecedented emphasis on economic development and modernization of the country. Fisheries grew rapidly again. In 1988, China became the third country in the world whose yearly fisheries production was over 10 million mt; then from 1990 on, China's yearly fisheries production ranked first in the world. In 1994, fisheries production was 20 million mt, and in 1995 it reached 25.17 million mt, contributing about one fifth of the world total. The past ten years have been the fastest growing period, with an annual increase of 51.4 percent, much higher than the world average.

The economic reforms in fisheries, begun in 1978 included:

  1. the introduction and implementation of a production responsibility system with the household or boat as the basic accounting unit;
  2. the change of the fisheries operational system to allow private/individual fisheries and fish farming operations;
  3. the shift of fisheries trade from being a completely government controlled system to a free market system; and
  4. the gradual relaxation of price controls for all aquatic products.

These changes in the management and production systems are considered the most successful and thorough reforms in the process of fisheries economic reforms.

In 1995, there were 407 fisheries townships, 6,690 fisheries villages, 3,834,729 fisheries households, 16,827,473 full-time fishermen and 11,428,655 part-time labourers. Fisheries households, full-time fishermen and part-time labourers accounted for 1.64 percent, 1.96 percent and 2.53 percent of the total agricultural households, full-time and part-time labourers respectively. These fishermen produced 23.07 million mt, or 91.7 percent of the total fisheries production of the country. The state-owned fisheries enterprises produced 2.07 million mt, only 8.3 percent of the total production, with a work force of 293,985. The production of state-owned fisheries enterprises, though comparatively small, is beneficial to market allocation and supply and is therefore still an important part of fisheries production.

During the past ten years, the number of Chinese fisheries labourers has greatly increased. There is no land conflict between fisheries and agriculture and no grassland conflict between fisheries and animal husbandry. When China develops her fisheries, the national revenue increases with funds for national development. Compared with agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry, the average yearly growth rate of the value of fisheries is the highest. The proportion of the total fisheries output value to the total agriculture output value is rising each year. In 1949, it was only 0.2 percent. By the end of 1978, it had gone up to 1.6 percent. In 1995, it was 8.5 percent. The export of aquatic products is important in earning foreign exchange and promoting international trade, particularly with other developing countries. Some aquatic products have high export value, and the cost is lower than that of many other agricultural products for export.

According to the customs statistics of 1995, the total amount of aquatic products imported and exported reached 2.08 million mt and the total value was US$ 4.25 billion. Exports amounted to 740,000 mt with a value of US$ 3.29 billion and the volume of imports was 1.34 million mt with a value of US$ 0.96 billion. The fisheries import and export value was 1.52 percent of the total national foreign trade. The volume and value of exported and imported fisheries products from 1978 to 1995 is shown in Table 2.

In 1995, the per-caput net income of peasants was 1,578 yuan while that of fishermen was 3,352 yuan, more than 100 percent higher than that of peasants. The development of fisheries not only creates many job opportunities but increases income.

The development of Chinese fisheries, particularly the development of aquaculture, has created employment opportunities and promoted the adjustment of the rural industrial structure and the comprehensive development and utilization of land resources. Now the Chinese fisheries is a comparatively integrated industrial system composed of aquaculture, capture fisheries, processing, marketing, boat building and machinery industries, fisheries science and technology, fisheries administration, etc. This system has played an important role in accelerating the development of the national economy, especially by stimulating the rural economy and improving the economic structures and living standard.

2.2 Marine Capture Fisheries

Marine capture fisheries is a major part of fisheries production. In 1949, the output of marine capture fisheries was 342,927 mt, or 76.5 percent of the total fisheries output. In recent years, owing to the speedy development of marine and freshwater aquaculture and the growth of freshwater capture fisheries, the proportion of marine capture fisheries has been going down steadily. In 1995, the output of marine capture fisheries reached 10,268,373 mt, still ranking first in total output, but the proportion went down to 40.8 percent.

As mentioned earlier, China borders four seas which cover a total area of 4.7 million km2: the Bohai 77,000 km2; Huanghai or Yellow 380,000 km2; East China 770,000 km2 and the South China 3.5 million km2. The continental shelf within an isobath of 200 m, covers about 1.5 million km2. In 1995, 91.7 percent of the output of marine capture fisheries came from the four sea areas. The total output was 9,416,001 mt (the Bohai 954,020 mt; the Huanghai or Yellow 1,706,250 mt; the East China 4,378,364 mt and the South China 2,377,387 mt), of which 6,458,959 mt came from coastal and inshore areas within a water depth of less than 80 m. The output from distant fisheries was only 852,372 mt, or 8.3 percent of the total output.

Along the coastal zone, thousands of rivers discharge into the seas, bringing large quantities of nutritive substances which support the fish populations. There are 1,500 species of fish along the coast, of which over 200 are of economic value and are fished commercially. The fish composition in different sea areas varies greatly because of a great disparity in environment. In terms of biomass, warm water species make up more than two thirds of the output.

In 1995 there were 273,978 marine motorized boats and about 40,000 non-powered boats. Of these, 2,928 were state-owned. Over 80 percent of the motorized boats had a power of less than 44 HP and 18.4 percent, 45-440 HP. Less than 0.6 percent had more than 440 HP. There were 1.1 million full-time fishermen and a number of part-time labourers with an output of 9,292,494 mt, while 47 state-owned enterprises with a labour force of more than 47,000 produced 975,879 mt, only 9.5 percent of the total marine capture output.

The marine capture fisheries output consisted of: fish, 7,436,035 mt, or 72.5 percent; crustaceans, 1,732,115 mt or 16.8 percent; shellfish, 827,979 mt or 8.1 percent; algae, 10,637 mt or 0.1 percent and others, 261,607 mt (including jellyfish, 171,905 mt) or 2.5 percent. Fish exceeding 100,000 mt were hairtail, round scad, anchovy, chub mackerel, mackerel, red coat, pomfret, conger pike, small yellow croaker, and filefish. The output of crustaceans included northern mauxia shrimp, swimming crab, southern rough shrimp and prawns. The output of shellfish included cuttle fish (Table 3). In the order of the amount of production, the different types of fishing operations were: trawlers 5,357,999 mt, or 52.2 percent; set-nets 1,927,813 mt, or 18.7 percent; gill and drift nets 1,263,800 mt, or 12.3 percent; purse seines 552,513 mt, or 5.4 percent; lines and hooks 341,314 mt, or 33.3 percent; and miscellaneous fishing gear 824,934 mt, or 8.1 percent.

During the 1950s, marine fisheries resources were developed and exploited. In the 1960s, inshore resources were fully developed and utilized. In the 1970s, motorized fishing boats increased in number and inshore resources were overfished, with fishing intensity exceeding fish recruitment. Big and small yellow croaker became nearly extinct in the Bohai and Huanghai seas. The proportion of valuable fish species became lower in all sea areas, and fish size, smaller. The per unit output of motorized fishing boats, in terms of engine power, went down. In the early 1970s, output stayed at more than 1 mt/HP; but by the end of the 1970s it was less than 0.6 mt/HP. In spite of the fact that in that period, the capture of off-shore pelagic fish progressed steadily, at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s, the total output decreased. After 1985, thanks to the measures of strengthening fisheries administration and management as well as development of stocking, marine capture output went up once again. But at the same time, the number of fishing boats increased by 141,193, or 106.3 percent in ten years. At present, the declining trend of inshore fisheries resources has not been effectively managed. The problem of the increasing number of fishing boats and the destruction of fisheries resources in the coastal areas continues.

2.3 Inland Capture Fisheries

China is rich in inland waters. According to statistics issued by the fisheries department in 1984, inland waters cover an area of 17.6 million ha, or nearly one fiftieth of the land area; ponds cover 1.92 million ha, or 7.2 percent; lakes, 7.53 million ha, or 42.1 percent; rivers, 5.28 million ha, or 39 percent; reservoirs, 2.30 million ha, or 11.7 percent. In these waters, the conditions for developing freshwater fisheries are good.

The freshwater areas abound in fishery resources. There are more than 800 freshwater species in the country, and about 60 or so are migrant species. In recent years, more than 30 species have been introduced from abroad. Carps make up about 50 to 60 percent of the total. Most of the high-value species are warm water fishes; cold water species are found in the northern areas.

Freshwater capture is the oldest method of fisheries production. At the beginning of the new China, freshwater fisheries became a focal point and developed swiftly. In 1950, the freshwater fisheries output was 365,960 mt, of which capture output was 300,000 mt, or 82 percent, and about one third of the total fisheries output. At the end of 1960, the freshwater capture output reached 668,523 mt, an increase of 1.23 times in ten years. But because the freshwater aquaculture output of the same period increased, the proportion of freshwater capture decreased to 57.2 percent of the freshwater fisheries output. After 1960, not only did the proportion decrease but the absolute yield of freshwater capture went down as well, owing to a severe decline in the natural resources. The annual yield in the 1950s was 524,000 mt; it fell to 451,000 mt in the 1960s and declined further to 316,000 mt in the 1970s. In 1978 the yield was only 296,441 mt, the lowest level in thirty years. In the first five years of the 1980s, the yield went up slightly, but was still far from the highest level of 1960. By 1988, the yield of freshwater capture fisheries had been restored and in 1995, it reached 1,372,864 mt. Compared with 1988, it had increased by more than 100 percent, but the proportion in freshwater fisheries was only 12.7 percent, or less than 5.5 percent of the total fisheries output.

In the 1950s freshwater capture output increased by a big margin. It was mainly because the number of fishing boats, nets and labourers grew, fishing areas were expanded and new ones developed. For example, in 1950 the number of fishing boats was 153,000, and in 1959 there were 311,000. In the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the fishing areas increased by more than 30 percent from 1958 to 1960. Qinghai Lake, Eling Lake, etc., the highest and biggest lakes in the world, located on Qing-Tibetan plateau, were virgin lakes which remained unnoticed for thousands of years but are now developed and utilized.

In the 1960s and 1970s the yield of freshwater capture fisheries continued to decline for a number of reasons, but the most important was that the ecological balance had been destroyed, resulting in a serious decline in natural fisheries resources. For example, with the rapid development of water conservancy and hydroelectric power generation, a large number of culverts, sluice gates, dykes and dams played an important role in industrial and agricultural production, flood control and drought resistance, but most of them were not equipped with appropriate fishways. The passage of migrating fishes and crabs was blocked. Thus parent fishes and crabs could not migrate to spawning grounds and the juvenile fishes and crabs could not swim into lakes to grow. The most affected were the anadromous fishes such as silver carp, black carp, grass carp, bighead carp, hilsa herring, river eel and river crab. In these affected water bodies, not only did the yield decline, but the fish fauna, population structure, and age composition changed a great deal. The stretch of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province is the main producing ground for fry. During 1958-1980 the fry yield decreased from 1,143 billion to 239.6 billion, a decline of 80 percent.

Land reclamation plays a direct role in reducing water areas used for freshwater capture. In the 1960s the decline in freshwater capture was directly related to large-scale land reclamation during this period. The reclaimed lake areas in the four provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui exceeded one million ha. Reclamation not only reduced the water areas, but also destroyed spawning and feeding grounds. Before 1976, the reclaimed water surface in Poyang Lake averaged 5,500 ha/year, most of it being spawning grounds for common carp and crucian carp. It is known that in the 1960s there were 55 spawning grounds in the southern part of the lake, but in the 1970s the number had decreased to 33, and later only 14 were left. Thus the ecological balance in the lake as a whole was severely damaged. Moreover, some of the natural water bodies used for capture fisheries were converted into culture areas, thus narrowing capture fishing grounds and reducing yield.

To account for the serious decline in freshwater capture output, in the late 1970s, many provinces pursued large-scale investigations, and found the main causes for the decline. With great effort from various quarters, appropriate measures were taken to improve the ecological environment in the lakes and apart from that, artificial propagation and stocking programmes were adopted. Therefore from 1979 on, the situation took a favourable turn. The output has steadily on the increase.

In 1995, 573,368 full-time fishermen engaged in freshwater capture fisheries and part-time fishermen may have far exceeded that number. There were over 500,000 fishing boats, but the majority were small and non-motorized. The motorized boats, on the average, only had about 10 HP each. Only a few big boats operated in large lakes and reservoirs; the rest were small, widely scattered, and moved here and there, with low production. This is a distinguishing feature of China's freshwater capture fisheries.

2.4 Aquaculture

For quite a long time aquaculture did not receive enough attention. As a result, it developed slowly. In 1949 the national aquaculture output was about 20,000 mt, of which 15,000 mt were from freshwater and 5,000 mt were from marine aquaculture, amounting to only 4.5 percent of total fisheries output. Though output had reached 22.7 percent of the total fisheries output by 1958, there was little change in the proportion in the following 20 years. The proportions were 23.2 percent in 1968, and 26.0 percent in 1978. Since 1978, aquaculture has developed rapidly. Output rose from 1.2 million mt in 1978 to 5.32 million mt in 1988, a net increase of 4.11 million mt and yearly growth rate as high as 16 percent. Marine aquaculture output was 1.425 million mt and freshwater output, 3.89 million mt, or an average annual growth rate of 12.3 percent and 17.7 percent respectively. During the same period, capture fisheries output went up from 3.44 million mt to 5.28 million mt, an average annual growth rate of only 4.4 percent. This led to a radical change in the Chinese fisheries production structure. In 1988, aquaculture output exceeded capture output for the first time, making up 50.2 percent of the total fisheries output. In the years from 1978 to 1988, 70 percent of the increased output came from aquaculture. By the end of 1995, aquaculture output had reached 13,530,557 mt, accounting for 53.7 percent of the total fisheries output, of which marine aquaculture output was 4,122,924 mt and freshwater output, 9,407,633 mt, increases of 189.4 percent and 141.3 percent respectively over 1988. Aquaculture has become the fastest growing sector of fisheries.

In 1995, the nation-wide areas for aquaculture reached 5,385,090 ha, of which the freshwater aquaculture areas were 4,669,340 ha (ponds, 1,857,810 ha; lakes, 824,330 ha; reservoirs, 1,515,620 ha; rivers, 3,447,330 ha and others, 124,250 ha), and marine aquaculture areas were 715,750 ha. The number of full-time fishermen engaged in aquaculture was 2,869,493 (freshwater, 2,470,778; marine 398,715). There were also a large number of part-time fishermen engaged in aquaculture activities.

The freshwater aquaculture output of major species in 1995 was: silver and bighead carp, 3,713,271 mt; grass carp, 2,070,988 mt; common carp, 1,398,618 mt; crucian carp, 533,740 mt; breams 335,934 mt; tilapia, 314,093 mt; black carp, 102,557 mt; freshwater prawn, 25,711 mt; river crabs, 41,515 mt; soft shell turtles, 17,445 mt; etc. The marine aquaculture output included: finfish, 144,957 mt; crustaceans, 115,881 mt; shellfish, 3,099,099 mt; seaweeds, 738,503 mt and others, 24,484 mt.

According to types of feshwater areas, the output in 1995 was: ponds, 6,952,742 mt or 73.9 percent; lakes, 585,300 mt or 6 percent; rivers, 464,370 mt or 4.9 percent; reservoirs, 815,076 mt or 8.6 percent; paddy fields, 272,9442 mt or 2.9 percent; and others, 317,203 mt or 3.4 percent. Marine area output was: shallow waters, 2,265,657 mt or 54.9 percent; gulfs and bays, 304,864 mt or 7.4 percent; and mud flats, 1,552,403 mt or 37.7 percent. Nearly three fourths of freshwater aquaculture output came from pond culture and more than half of the marine aquaculture output came from culture in shallow sea waters. The water areas of the country and per hectare output are shown in Table 4.

From 1978 to 1995, aquaculture output increased by a big margin. First of all, the culture areas were expanded. In the 1980s, pond culture developed swiftly and became a major source of output in freshwater aquaculture. From 1978 to 1988, pond culture areas in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan, and Anhui were expanded by 433,000 ha. In North-central China, the North-East, and North-West where freshwater aquaculture was underdeveloped, pond culture also rose sharply. Compared with 1978, pond culture areas in the northern regions increased by 156 percent, 190 percent and 229 percent respectively. At the same time, the culture areas of lakes, reservoirs and rivers were also increased. Compared with 1978, the total culture area had increased by 90.7 percent by 1995. Thanks to the improvement of culture technology and management, the per-unit output of aquaculture was greatly increased. On average the per unit yield of freshwater aquaculture rose from 227.5 kg/ha in 1978 to 2,015 kg/ha in 1995, and marine aquaculture increased from 2,571 kg/ha in 1985 to 5,760 kg/ha in 1995. Apart from this, the introduction and transplantation of fine quality species, and the development of net cage culture all played an active role in the development of aquaculture production.

A breakthrough in artificial propagation and kelp seedling raising laid the foundation for the rapid development of aquaculture production. In the past, fish culture depended completely upon natural fry collected in the Yangtze and the Pearl River valleys. Harvests were variable and aquaculture production was hampered. In 1958 China was the first to artificially propagate silver and bighead carp with success. In recent years, the artificial propagation of many cultured species, including fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish, algae, etc., has been successfully carried out. This not only guarantees that aquaculture undertakings will develop fast but also accelerates the development of fisheries science and technology. In 1995, the production of freshwater fish fry was 277.9 billion, of which 259.8 billion were produced by artificial propagation, making up 93.5 percent. Artificially propagated river crab fry amounted to 51,948 kg; shrimp fry, 33.3 billion; scallop seeds, 69.5 billion; abalone seeds, 190.4 million; kelp seeds, 8.9 billion; laver seedlings, 154.2 million, etc. The development of aquaculture equipment and facilities such as pumps, aerators, pond diggers, feeding machines and net cages also promoted aquaculture production.

3. Contribution to Food Security

3.1 As food

Aquatic products are high in protein and low in fat. They contain amino acids essential to human health. They strengthen the brain, promote longevity, contribute to fitness and improve one's looks. They are of value in dietary balance and are important to children's growth. Studies also show that they help prevent cardiovascular disease and are useful in the prevention and treatment of goitre. An increase of aquatic products leads to more protein intake, which improves nutritional level and physical condition.

The fisheries output of 1995 reached 25.11 million mt and played an important role in supplying food, particularly protein. Fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish, etc., contain more protein than meat or eggs. It has been determined that 100 g of hairtail contains 18 g of protein; silver carp, 18.6 g; lean meat, 16.7 g; beef, 17.7 g; mutton, 13.3 g; and an egg, 14.8 g. On average 100 g of fish protein contains 10.6 g of lysine, more than milk, eggs or meat. In recent years, the output of aquatic products has increased greatly and the per-caput consumption rose from 4.4 kg at the end of the 1970s to 20 kg by 1995, equivalent to the world average. At present, one third of the animal food consumed comes from aquatic products. But the animal protein share in the total protein intake in China is still low, only 10 percent; which is below the 17 percent world average. The Government regards the development of fisheries and increasing the supply of aquatic products as one of the most important measures in improving living standard and promoting social and economic development.

The important role fisheries plays in food security is obvious, particularly in the periods when there are food shortages. At the beginning of the establishment of the People's Republic of China, in order to overcome the problem of food shortage, the government actively developed fisheries and encouraged people to consume more aquatic products. From 1949 to 1957, fisheries output increased from 450,000 mt to more than 3 million mt, a five-fold increase. This contributed significantly to social stability and economic improvement at that time, and to a certain extent, lightened the pressure on food supply. During the early 1960s, China's economy experienced serious difficulties. Aquatic products played a major role in easing the serious food shortage in urban and rural areas. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a shortage of aquatic products in large and medium-sized cities. This was gradually remedied.

According to the statistics of eight large cities, not including the suburbs, average per-caput consumption in 1995 was 38.5 kg/year, of which Beijing was 23.0 kg; Tianjin, 27.3 kg; Shanghai, 42.6 kg; Guangzhou, 60.2 kg; Harbin, 11.4 kg; Wuhan, 38.9 kg; Chendu, 21.4 kg; and Fuzhou, 60.5 kg. The differences are significant. In these eight cities, the turnover of aquatic products was 1.24 million mt or 13.37 billion yuan. Of this, the turnover handled by the state-owned enterprises was 207,573 mt or 1.88 billion yuan and by others was 1.03 million mt or 11.49 billion yuan. Open markets handled 833,320 mt or 9.38 billion yuan. This shows that large quantities of aquatic products were directly supplied to markets by producers themselves or vendors. Of the aquaculture production scattered in the vast countryside, a certain amount is consumed by rural people and the rest is sold at open markets. It is becoming the major source of animal protein in the diet.

It is worth mentioning that the large-scale construction of fish ponds in cities and suburbs in the 1970s played a major role in solving the "difficulty in buying fish" problem. There is a lot of water surface in urban districts and suburbs which can be used to culture fish. Many cities have excavated ponds in wastelands for this purpose. With subsidies from the State, and three years effort, by the end of 1974, 14,666 ha of stable and high yield ponds had been built in 16 cities. For example, from the winter of 1971 to the spring of 1973, in Wuhan, 805 ha of intensive culture ponds were excavated in low-lying land and on the shores of lakes, while in Harbin, 400 ha of ponds were built from the winter of 1975 to the spring of 1976. According to the statistics of 135 large and medium-sized cities, the area of stable and high-yield fish ponds reached 230,666 ha in 1974, making up 7 percent of the total freshwater aquaculture area at that time. The per-unit yield was higher because the culture conditions in the suburbs were very good. Average yield was 2,490 kg/ha, 2.6 times higher than the national average of the same year. The total output was 125,000 mt, accounting for 12 percent of the total freshwater production of the country. The degree of self-sufficiency in fish supply has increased year by year. Then, with the development of freshwater aquaculture, "commercial fish bases" were set up. The development of fish culture in the suburbs and the setting up of commercial fish bases have proved that developing fisheries is a quick and effective way to increase aquatic products and food security.

Animal protein is converted from animal feed. But fish contains fine animal protein with little feed or none at all. Capture fisheries is carried out directly, using the natural resources; in aquaculture, the feed conversion rate is rather high. Generally, 1 kg of fish is produced from 1-3 kg of feed. Shellfish and algae culture consume the least feed. This feed conversion efficiency is higher than those of the animal husbandry and poultry industries. Thus, fisheries has an obvious advantage in reduced feed consumption, and at the same time provides fine quality feed for the poultry industry.

Capture fisheries output comes from natural fisheries resources, without providing any feed. Most traditional freshwater culture species are filter-feeder species, such as silver and bighead carp which account for 56 to 65 percent of the total production. The herbivorous species such as grass carp and Chinese bream, amount to 20 percent. The omnivorous species such as common carp, mud carp, crucian carp and tilapia make up 12 to 21 percent. The carnivorous species such as black carp and crustaceans make up only about 7 to 8 percent. On the whole, the food chain of the majority of cultured species is comparatively short. The fish are mainly dependent upon natural feeds. Such is also the case with algae and shellfish culture. Even though some cultured species need a certain amount of feed, the conversion rate is high. In short, capture fisheries contributes a lot but demands little, so in terms of food security, it has advantages.

China is famous for its integrated fish farming. Fish farmers develop and utilize their local water bodies and land resources and form a circle of the whole production procedure so as to gain maximum economic benefits. An example of fish-cum-feeds is raising fish in ponds and planting sorghum sudeness, lolium pereme and soybeans on the pond dikes to provide green-feed for fish. Other integrated systems are fish-cum-pig-cum-grain-cum-grass, fish-cum-livestock-cum-fowl, fish-cum-fruit-cum-herbs-cum-vegetables and even fish-cum-small fish processing industries. As a result, while developing aquaculture, other kinds of food are produced.

3.2 As Income/Employment

According to the fixed price of 1990, the total fisheries output value of 1995 was 111.15 billion yuan or according to the present price it was 174.37 billion yuan. The proportion of fisheries in the total agricultural output in value was 0.2 percent in 1949, 1.9 percent in 1959, 1.7 percent in 1969 and 1.5 percent in 1979. In 1989 it reached 3.4 percent and in 1995, 8.5 percent. Though the proportion is not very high, the growth rate is the fastest of any agriculture sector.

The volume of exported aquatic products and values from 1985 to 1994 are shown in Table 2. During this period, the export volume went up from 124 thousand mt to 684 thousand mt, an increase of 426.4 percent. The value also rose from US$ 271.64 million to US$ 2,606.99 million, an increase of 859.7 percent. By the end of 1995, the export volume had further grown to 740,000 mt, and the value had risen to US$ 3.29 billion, an increase of about 60,000 mt and US$ 6.8 million respectively compared with 1994. The major exports in 1994 are listed in Table 5.

China also imports aquatic products. From 1985 to 1994, the import volume and values are shown in Table 2. In 1985, the import volume was 329,000 mt, worth US$ 91.47 million; in 1994, the volume and value were 1.26 million mt and US$ 868 million respectively. In 1995, the volume rose to 1.34 million mt with the value being US$ 960 million, 70,000 mt and US$ 90 million over the previous year. The major imported fisheries products are listed in Table 6. The volume of imports is high, but imported fish meal formed a large proportion, and the sum of the imports is far lower than that of exports. Thus China has had a favourable balance of trade in fish and fishery products for many years.

The development of fisheries creates job opportunities on an extensive scale and increases personal income. The proportion of the Chinese agricultural population was 85 percent of its total in 1970, 83 percent in 1980 and 80 percent in 1984. Along with the development of the national economy and science and technology, the proportion will go down. This is an inevitable tendency of social development. Alongside the reform of the agricultural economic system, more and more agricultural labourers will leave the land. The development of aquaculture is no doubt an effective way to absorb these labourers.

Fisheries and related occupations are an important source of livelihood in the rural areas of the country. In 1995 there were 11,428,655 million labourers engaged in fisheries production, of whom 5,071,940 were full-time labourers (capture fisheries, 1,672,822; aquaculture, 2,869,493; service logistics, 529,625), and 6,356,715 part-time labourers (the period for fisheries production is less than 3 months per a year). There were 300,000 people employed by 3,133 state-owned fisheries enterprises. The increase of fisheries labourers from 1978 to 1995 is shown in Table 7. In fact, in 1995, fisheries labourers increased by 9,027,447 over the 2,401,208 in 1978, a rise of 375.9 percent. Of them, more than 7 million were engaged in aquaculture. It is the input of large numbers of labourers that has ensured sustained production.

With the development of fisheries, services before and after production develop simultaneously. These include building fishing boats and facilities; and manufacturing fishing nets, freezing and processing equipment, transportation tools, farm machinery, etc. This phenomenon is quite obvious in those areas where people are mainly engaged in fisheries; in these areas if fisheries is growing prosperously, other related industries also flourish. The economy in the whole area is vigorous.

The higher income of fisheries labourers is important in attracting many rural labourers to take part in fisheries activities. According to investigations made in different parts of the country, from 1978 to 1995, the average annual net income of all workers increased from 93 yuan to 3,545 yuan while each fisheries labourer's average annual net income increased from 269 yuan to 7,147 yuan. The increment of income involves the enhancement of labour productivity, but in 1995, on average, each fisheries labourer's output was 2.2 mt compared with 1.93 mt in 1978, an increase of only 14 percent. It is clear that income increased by a wide margin because prices of aquatic products went up. The prices of aquatic products are much higher than those of agricultural products and therefore a fisheries labourer's income is higher than that of other agricultural labourers.

4. Role of Public and Private Sectors

4.1 Political Commitment and Government Intervention

Since the implementation of the policies of reform and opening to the outside world in 1978, the State has achieved a great deal in different fields. The national economy has been significantly strengthened and the socialist market economy is being formed. The Ninth Five Year Plan (1996-2000) for the development of the national economy and society, and the Long-Range Plan of 2000 were formulated by the Government not long ago. It is believed that efforts should be concentrated on the economy and attempts should be made to solve the major problem of a weak agricultural base with a fundamental policy of strengthening agriculture as the first priority in the development of the national economy. Leaders at different levels are being asked to deal with agriculture on their own, to treat properly the relationship between agriculture and other industries, to fully mobilize the initiative of peasants, scientific and technology workers engaged in agriculture, and rural cadres. People in all walks of life should make contributions to agricultural development so as to develop the rural economy. It is also stated in the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) that, on the premise that a steady increase of grain output is ensured, a diversified economy should be actively developed in line with local conditions; rural collectives and individuals will be encouraged to develop and utilize uncultivated land and rural resources in a comprehensive way to develop forestry, animal husbandry, sideline production and fisheries. It is pointed out that freshwater and inshore aquaculture should be expanded and distant-water fisheries developed. Under the guidance of these national policies and principles, Chinese fisheries should develop in a sustainable way, and make a greater contribution to food security.

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for nation-wide fisheries. The plan of the ministry stipulates that by 2000 aquatic products output should be 32 million mt; with a total output value of 168.42 billion yuan (1990 constant price); the share in the total agricultural output value should be 13 percent and per-caput consumption of aquatic products should be 24 kg/yr. It is estimated that 24 kg will exceed the world per-caput level. The annual net income of fisherman should reach 3,800 yuan on average and the earnings of foreign currency through exported aquatic products should amount to more than US$ 4 billion. The output target is about 7 million mt more than 1995, an average increase of 1.4 million mt every year. The objective can surely be met with hard work.

The Fisheries Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of the routine fisheries administration of the country. Its duties are to put forward policies and principles of fisheries development; guide the reform of the fisheries economy; formulate fisheries regulations and rules, and supervise their implementation; manage fisheries activities involving foreign countries; protect the fisheries resources; develop fisheries science, technology and education and safeguard fishermen. The organizational structure of the Bureau of Fisheries is shown in Figure 2. The present responsibilities of the Bureau of Fisheries are:

  1. to closely link reform with development; to set up and make an integrated system of fisheries, industry and trade so as to form an all-round system with the sectors linked together in an economic community, in which leading enterprises and fisheries households share common benefits and risks; to promote standardized products so as to further link production and processing with marketing; to widen domestic and foreign markets; to speed up the progress of fisheries science and technology; to enhance quality on the whole and increase economic benefits;
  2. to organize and construct the "2 x 6 project". The first 6 include: the construction of 6 large systems. They are an original and high quality aquatic seeds system; a standardized system of aquatic science and technology; a fisheries technology extension service system; a system of aquaculture fish disease prevention and control; an aquatic products marketing system; and a system of fisheries management, including resources and environmental protection. The second 6 development and construction projects include: the development of commercial fish bases and comprehensive fisheries; the development of off-shore fisheries; the development of distant fisheries; the development of processing and comprehensive utilization of aquatic products; the development and construction of fishing ports; and reform of industrial technology of fishing boats and machinery;
  3. to further strengthen fisheries technology extension services; to continue to extend effective technologies and good strains of fish; to pay special attention to technical training, and to enhance fisheries labourers' capacities. Science and technology development and extension services should contribute to a fisheries output increment of 55 percent. It was 45 percent in the 1991 to 1995 period;
  4. to continue to strengthen the fisheries legal system;
  5. to pay special attention to resources and environmental protection; and
  6. to establish a system of economic order and management suited to sustainable development. The Chinese fisheries management system should be compatible with the international management system.

4.2 Inter-country Cooperation

Since the founding of the new China, while establishing good relations in fisheries with neighbouring countries, China has been developing friendly contacts through scientific and technological exchange and economic and technical cooperation.

In 1955, the China and Japan Fisheries Associations signed the Yellow Sea and East China Sea Fisheries Agreement. In 1975, the two governments signed another Fisheries Agreement, and in August of the same year, they signed the Yellow Sea Fisheries Agreement. In 1986 the two governments signed a fisheries borderline agreement. In 1957, China and Vietnam signed a fisheries agreement on the Beibu Gulf relating to non-motorized fishing boats and in 1962 and 1963 they signed the Honghe River Resources Protection Agreement and the Beibu Gulf Fisheries Agreement respectively. In 1975, China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea signed an agreement on fish farming in Shuifen Reservoir, and in 1985, China and the USA signed an agreement on fishing off the USA coast.

According to the incomplete statistics of 1987, China has created contacts in fisheries with more than 60 countries, regions and international organizations, formed bilateral fisheries cooperative relations with more than ten countries, and established fisheries trade links with over twenty countries. In scientific and technological cooperation, China has received study groups from more than 50 countries and provided them with various kinds of fisheries technical information and data. China has also supplied parent fish and fry of grass carp, black carp, silver carp, bighead carp, as well as seedlings of kelp and laver to a dozen countries. In addition, China has invited foreign experts in different fields to give short term assistance and lectures. A number of advanced fisheries technologies and aquaculture species have been introduced from abroad. Examples of helpful cooperation carried out are:

  1. Cooperation with Japan carried out mainly in the Shanghai Technical Development Center of Aquatic Products Processing. Experimental bases of fisheries resources propagation and enhancement were set up in the Bohai Sea. The Japan International Cooperation Agency helped to establish a freshwater fish farming center in Beijing.
  2. From 1963 to 1966, China provided Vietnam with 284 instruments for freshwater fisheries research as well as chemical agents. In 1963, China also sent specialists in marine aquaculture to give guidance in oyster culture.
  3. China assisted Sri Lanka to build an experimental station for fish culture.
  4. China helped Afghanistan to build experimental farms for fish breeding.
  5. Aid projects in Iran included the construction of fisheries ports, a fishing net factory, cold storage and processing plants, and supplying shrimp culture technologies, fry and technical training.
  6. In 1987, China and Mexico held talks on fisheries technical cooperation. Cooperation included cooperative research, personnel training, exchange of data and cultured species and exchange of specialists.
  7. According to the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement in Oceans and Fisheries signed by China and the USA in 1979, cooperative research was carried out in aquaculture; there was a comprehensive investigation of tuna, studies of fisheries species biology, and cooperation in marine fisheries management and development.
  8. The Norwegian government presented China with an advanced research vessel (1,165 mt) named "Bei Dou" to be used to investigate fisheries resources, train personnel, and make investigations and an assessment of the pelagic fish resources in the Yellow and East China Seas, all with very satisfactory results.
  9. Before the 1960s the Russian Federation sent 13 specialists to China to give lectures at fisheries research institutions and in 1987, the two countries signed a fisheries cooperation agreement. Cooperation involved fisheries investigations and research, protection, propagation, rational utilization and management of biological resources in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and boundary-line rivers, the supplying of fishing boats in common fishing areas, the transportation of fish products, the development of marine aquaculture, assistance to each other in building and repairing boats, improvement of fishing gear and improvement of processing techniques.
  10. In 1959, China helped Albania build a fish farm with an area of 4 ha, and taught techniques of artificial propagation and raising. In 1972 and 1973, China helped with artificial propagation and breeding of large quantities of fry, and thus Albania achieved self-sufficiency in fry supply.

Moreover, China began to establish trade in fisheries products with other countries. This cooperation is classified into three patterns. The first is compensatory trade, that is, the acceptance of materials for processing. The second is the setting up of joint ventures in China. The last is the setting up of joint ventures or cooperative enterprises outside China. According to the statistics from 9 coastal cities and provinces, by the end of 1988, more than 130 fisheries joint enterprises had been established with foreign investment exceeding US$ 100 million.

4.3 Private Sector

The implementation of a fisheries production responsibility system is an important part of fisheries economic reform. The system has mobilized fishermen's initiative and freed production forces. Due to the implementation of the responsibility system, a diversified production system with cooperatives as the mainstay and individual business as a supplement has been formed. To account for fisheries production activities, capture fisheries is carried out with boats as the basic accounting unit, and aquaculture with households as the accounting unit. Private ownership is no longer forbidden. By the end of the 1980s, 87 percent of marine capture fishing boats were owned by a few individuals who paid a small management fee to the township or village.

In 1995, 91.6 percent of the total fisheries output was from cooperative and private sectors. In freshwater capture and marine aquaculture output, the proportions of cooperative and private sectors reached as high as 95 percent and 94.2 percent respectively. Out of 432,674 fishing boats, 97.8 percent belonged to cooperatives and individuals.

Before 1978, no cold storage units were owned by cooperatives or individuals. Economic reform promoted the development of cooperatives and private fish processing industries. By 1992, cooperatives and private industries owned 2,215 cold storage units with a daily ice making capacity of 23,000 mt and refrigeration storage capacity of 280,000 mt.

4.4 External Assistance

In 1983, international donor agencies began to assist China to develop her fisheries in various fields such as aquaculture, fisheries resources management, fishery education and training. The major international organizations were the World Bank, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, and International Funds for Agriculture Development. By the end of 1992, China had accepted funds of US$ 900 million, including about US$ 200 million in contributions and US$ 700 million in credit. More than 20 projects have been implemented (Table 8). At the same time, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Canadian International Development Research Center, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency supported various projects. It is believed that external assistance has played a significant role in increasing fisheries production in China. The projects have not only rendered support to developing fisheries production, but have also provided important assistance for the improvement of fisheries infrastructure and management. Some of the projects are described below.

  1. The development of Fishery Resources in Hongze County, (WFP-2633 Project):

    This was the first WFP fisheries project initiated in China. Its main objective was to resettle 2,000 fishing families living in poverty on houseboats on Hongze Lake and provide them with an alternative livelihood, with houses, schools, and a hospital. It is considered one of the most successful projects in China.

  2. The Sino-Norwegian Fisheries Cooperation Project:

    As mentioned before, the Norwegian Government gave a fisheries research vessel named "Bei Dou" to China. A significant result of the project was the identification of a large amount of anchovy resources and the development of fishing methods for exploitation of these resources. The project completed a survey on the sardine stocks in the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea.

  3. Development of Coastal Aquaculture in Bohai Bay (WFP-2771 Project):

    The project sites were in Huanghua County, Hebei Province, and Lijin, Shonguang and Changyi counties, Shangdong Province. The objective of this project was to raise the living standard of submarginal fishermen whose income had dwindled due to depletion of the Bohai Sea marine resources and to provide a new livelihood through shrimp farming. Major construction converted nearly 4,000 ha of unproductive mud flats and saline plains into 2,200 ha of shrimp ponds as well as other infrastructure such as roads, bridges, pumping stations, hatcheries, feed mills, and cold storage units.

  4. Development of Integrated Fish Farming In Nine Cities (WFP-China 2814 Project):

    The project converted 9,735 ha of unused and marginal land into 6,833 ha of fish ponds in nine cities to increase their fish supply and to create job opportunities. The Fisheries Project Office of the Ministry of Agriculture as the executive agency provided direct supervision and advice in all aspects of the project implementation including fish farm design, construction and management. The result was highly satisfactory.

  5. China Agriculture Scientific Research and Education Project:

    As a component of this project the Shanghai Fisheries University, Dalian Fisheries College and Shangdong Fisheries School from 1983 to 1987 obtained US$ 4.6 million, US$ 2.60 million and US$ 0.34 million respectively from the World Bank to purchase laboratory equipment and send staff abroad for training and study. It greatly upgraded the educational facilities, staff quality and fisheries education system in China.

  6. China Freshwater Fisheries Project (Credit 1689-CHA):

    The project was financed by the World Bank and the principle objective was to develop freshwater fish culture in the outskirts of eight cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Nan Chang and Shenyang) by improving 6,100 ha of existing fish ponds and using land unsuitable for crops to construct 11,100 ha of new ponds, providing techniques and equipment for pond management, and strengthening support facilities for production and marketing of fish. This project was regarded as highly successful.

  7. Pilot Project to Increase the Output of Fish Farms (NA 85/28):

    The project was financed by the EEC as a grant. Two feed mills with annual production capacities of 10,000 mt each were constructed and technologies transferred in the fields of intensive fish culture management and fish feed formulation and processing. It greatly increased fish farm efficiency both in terms of production and net income.

  8. Fisheries Development in Qinghai (UNDP/FAO Assisted Project CPR/88/077):

    This was the first international assistance to the fishery sector in Qinghai Province. Its two major objectives were: i) improvement of the naked carp fishery in Qinghai Lake by introducing practices and management on a scientific basis and developing hatchery techniques for production of juveniles of this little-known species; and ii) demonstration of the technical and economic feasibility of commercial rainbow trout farming in Qinghai Province. It was a successful project, particularly the rainbow trout farming in the Longyangxia Reservoir. Rainbow trout farming has become one of the priorities of fisheries development in Qinghai.

4.5 Non-Governmental Organizations and Fisheries Associations

The China Society of Fisheries is a registered academic non-governmental organization specializing in fisheries. Promoting scientific knowledge and providing technical services are the most important activities carried out by the society. Fifteen thousand scientists, professionals and people related to fisheries all over the country have voluntarily joined the society. There are 14 professional commissions under the Society and it holds academic workshops annually. Owing to the increasingly serious fish disease problems existing in aquaculture and the needs in developing high density culture technology, the Fish Disease Prevention and Treatment Network, and the High Density Intensive Culture Technology Cooperation Network were set up recently. They hold conventions, seminars, workshops and field visits every year. Thus the society takes an active part not only in academic activities, but also in technical extension and production. Eight professional fisheries magazines are edited and published by the society. It is also a member of the Asian Fisheries Society and the World Aquaculture Society.

In China, there are many professional associations related to fisheries, such as fishing boat and machinery, fish processing, and refrigeration associations. They are active and have made contributions to fisheries development. In the vast countryside, fishermen's associations set up in the early 1990s, are growing and playing a positive role. Since economic reform began, the former highly concentrated and rigid management system has disappeared. Following the advances of production forces and the enlargement of the market economy, some problems have emerged in small-scale/individual fisheries, such as weak resistance to natural calamities, weak economic strength, difficulties in procuring supplies, selling fish products and obtaining credit. To overcome these difficulties, the fishermen's associations have expanded rapidly. They are a new kind of non-governmental organization, in which the members are allowed to join or withdraw from the association freely. An association is usually organized by administrative village, township or even at a higher level, and there are free elections. It is also an organization which helps fishermen to help themselves in all aspects of fisheries. It is estimated that there are several hundred fishermen's associations throughout the country.

5. Policy Framework for a Sustainable Contribution to Food Security

5.1 Policy Issues and their Resolution

In China, the natural conditions for developing fisheries are superior but during the 30 years before 1979, the resources were not rationally and effectively utilized. Apart from political factors, the guiding ideology was not clear; for quite a long time marine fisheries was regarded as more important than inland fisheries, inland capture fisheries as more important than aquaculture, output as more important than quality and production as more important than management. Output was increased mainly by raising the number of fishing boats and nets. As a result, the fisheries resources in inshore and inland waters were seriously depleted. In 1979 the policy was changed with emphasis on rationally utilizing resources, devoting major efforts to aquaculture development, and paying special attention to increasing output.

In 1985, the State firmly put forward a fisheries development policy with the following emphases: marine and freshwater aquaculture were the most important; then capture fisheries in inshore and inland water areas, and then the protection and enhancement of the resources. At the same time handling and processing of aquatic products were to be developed with concentrated effort. Recently the State further made it clear that during the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) and after, the fisheries development policy would be to accelerate the development of aquaculture; conserve and rationally utilize inshore resources; actively expand distant-water fisheries; pay serious attention to processing and marketing; and strengthen fisheries management and the enforcement of laws and regulations. It is believed that with this policy, the Chinese fisheries will enter into a phase of sustainable development.

The Fisheries Law of the People's Republic of China was discussed and adopted at the 14th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on 20 January 1986, and put into effect on 1 July 1986. The Law provides that the State will encourage people to develop aquaculture, actively propagate fishery resources, protect fishery workers' lawful rights and interests, develop offshore and distant-water fisheries as well as restrict inland and inshore fishing intensity. According to the initial statistics, in the ten years since the Fisheries Law was issued, the central and provincial governments have issued more than 500 fisheries rules, regulations and standardized documents. In major aspects such as fisheries management, resources conservation and production activities, there now are laws and regulations to go by. Thus is a fundamental legal basis for sustainable fisheries development.

The Government further stated that to achieve success with the Ninth Five-Year Plan and the 2010 objectives, two radical changes would be necessary: one was the transformation of the economic system from a traditional planned economy to a socialist market economy, and the other was the change of the pattern of economic expansion from an extensive one to an intensive one. These changes will accelerate the sustainable development of fisheries.

There is great potential for the sustainable development of the Chinese fisheries and at the same time there also exist many constraints. The Ministry of Agriculture recently put forward that by 2000, fisheries output should reach 32 million mt. So far, no official figures for fisheries output in 2010 have been issued, but it is generally believed that it is entirely possible to exceed 40 million mt by then.

5.2 Potential for Fisheries Development

The potential for fisheries development includes:

  1. Vast water areas

    There are 2.6 million ha of shallow seas and mud flats suitable for aquaculture, but only 27.5 percent is being utilized at present. There are 6.75 million ha of inland water areas suitable for aquaculture with 70 percent being utilized and there are nearly 7.0 million ha of paddy fields which can be used for rice-cum-fish culture with less than one fifth being utilized. Of the water areas now being used, a considerable part is being managed in an extensive way, so there is a potential for raising unit yield. There are also 2.33 million ha of undeveloped low-lying wasteland suitable for aquaculture. In addition, there are more than 300 km2 of sea areas for marine capture fisheries development.

  2. Manpower resources

    China is strictly controlling population growth, trying to limit the population to less than 1.3 billion by 2000, but it is growing rapidly. It is estimated that the agricultural population will increase by 7.0 million by 2000. The surplus labour in the rural areas can be used in fisheries development.

  3. Market expansion

    At present, fish consumption levels vary in different parts of the country. In inland cities, per-caput consumption of aquatic products is less than 1 kg/year. With the improved living standard, residents' demands for aquatic products are on the increase. International trade in aquatic products is also steadily increasing. A large potential exists in domestic and international markets.

  4. Application of science and technology and improvement of extension services

    On the whole, aquaculture, capture fisheries and processing are extensively managed at a low technical level, but aquatic science and technology have made remarkable progress and are playing a greater role in increasing output. According to an evaluation made by a specialist, from 1980 to 1985 aquatic science and technological achievements brought about an increase in fisheries output, equal to 35 percent; from the 1986 to 1990, progress in aquatic science and technology, input of funds and labourers made contributions to the growth of fisheries equal to 43 percent, 37 percent and 20 percent respectively, and from 1991 to 1995, the progress of aquatic science and technology, input of funds, input of labourers and the expansion of aquaculture areas contributed to a growth of 46 percent, 44 percent, 6 percent and 4 percent respectively. Science and technology, and extension services will continue to contribute to increasing production.

  5. Availability of feed

    Of the fisheries output to be increased in the next 5 years (1996-2000), 85 percent or about 6 million mt will be from aquaculture. Of the 6 million mt, about 21 percent or 1.22 million mt will be converted from feed grain. It takes 2.24 million mt of feed to produce 1.22 million mt of aquatic products. Actually it takes 1.5 million mt of feed grain in addition to fish meal and bean cakes, or 3 percent of the planned increase in grain yield. Therefore the feed supply is ensured in China.

    From 1991 to 1995, on average, the output of aquatic products increased by 2.56 million mt per year, an average growth rate of 15.3 percent. From 1996 to 2000, aquatic products are expected to increase by 1.4 million mt per year or, a 5 percent growth rate is anticipated. The absolute increase in yield and average annual growth rate will apparently be lower than the preceding 5 years. This is a policy which leaves room for unforeseen circumstances.

5.3 Constraints in Fisheries Development

The constraints in Chinese fisheries development are as follows:

  1. Weak infrastructure and low unit output

    Of the 270,000 marine motorized fishing boats, 93.7 percent are small boats, of less than 10 mt each, with an engine power of less than 60 HP. There are 156,000 freshwater motorized fishing boats, of less than 6 mt each, with an engine power of less than 10 HP. Nearly 80 percent of aquaculture ponds are still natural earthen ponds in poor condition and with low output. In 1995, the average output of a fisherman was 2.2 mt per year, only 1/5-1/4 of the output of some countries where fisheries is more developed. Small-scale and individual fisheries are difficult to incorporate into a strategy for fisheries sustainable development.

  2. Weak management capacity

    The Chinese fisheries legal system has made great progress, but laws and regulations are not strictly enforced due to insufficient personnel and equipment. Fisheries resources protection and environmental protection are not carried out throughout the country; in some districts the number of fishing boats, gear, and fishing intensity continue to grow without control; operations in violation of the regulations and rules frequently occur and fisheries disputes involving foreign countries are on the increase.

  3. Low quality of fish and fishery products

    Of the output of capture fisheries, small fish and low-value fish constitute a considerable proportion. Owing to poor processing methods, post-harvest losses are high and some products deteriorate rapidly and thus nutritive value is lost. It is difficult to compete in international markets because of poor quality. It is necessary to establish quality standards for products.

  4. Environmental pollution

    About 90 percent of freshwater capture output comes from seven rivers. The total length of the river sections which do not conform to the fisheries water quality standards has exceeded 5,000 km. At present, near many large and medium-sized cities, there are belts of highly concentrated waste water causing mass mortality of fish. In seriously polluted rivers, the sections where fish die of pollution, range from 30 to 60 km. In Zhejiang Province alone, polluted water areas which cannot be used have reached 24,000 ha. The harbours, mud flats and river mouths along the sea coast are getting increasingly polluted. According to the incomplete statistics from 15 provinces, in 1993, there were nearly 500 incidents due to pollution. This caused losses of 520 million yuan, of which, losses of marine and freshwater production were 420 million and 100 million yuan respectively.

5.4 Concrete Policies and Measures

Marine capture fisheries

For marine capture, protection and rational utilization of inshore resources, and active expansion of distant-water fisheries are the general policy of development. Owing to the fact that the tendency of the resources to decline has not been stopped, measures will be taken:

  1. To further control fishing intensity. In the next 5 years the marine capture fishing intensity will be limited to that of 1995. The fishing boat quota set by the State should be strictly controlled.
  2. To reduce access for fishing in inshore waters and promote aquaculture, processing, transportation, and marketing activities.
  3. To ensure that the non-fishing season every year in the East China and Yellow Sea is 2.5 months, and perhaps extend it to 3 months.
  4. To stop illegal use of poison, dynamite and electricity in fishing.
  5. To restrict fishing boats to the designated fishing areas.
  6. To strengthen the protection of the inshore ecological environment, particularly that of fish and shrimp spawning grounds.
  7. To insist on large-scale stocking activities to propagate and enhance the resources.
  8. To further strengthen the enforcement of laws and regulations.
  9. To intensify fisheries resources investigations.
  10. To continue to render preferential treatment through fund allocations and tax policies to distant fisheries.
Freshwater capture fisheries

During the past ten years, freshwater capture output has been increasing, but its proportion of the total fisheries output is getting smaller. Its growth rate is not as high as those of other sectors. As in marine capture fisheries, the main problem is the decline of the resources caused by changes in the ecological environment and pollution. Policies and measures for improvement are as follows:

  1. The institutions which have built sluice gates and dams across fish passages which prevent fish from migrating, should construct fishways or take other remedial steps.
  2. The water bodies used for fisheries and irrigation should have a minimum water level to protect fishery resources and fishery activities.
  3. At present, not only should reclamation of land be prohibited, but reclaimed areas should be converted to lakes.
  4. For fishing activities, there is a licensing system; the institutions or individuals that are engaged in fishing must operate in accordance with the rules and regulations with respect to registering kinds and numbers of fishing gear, fishing areas, fishing time limits, etc.
  5. The Law of Prevention and Treatment of Water Pollution clearly provides that the ecological environment of water bodies be protected and improved. Recently the State made some amendments to the above laws: those who cause pollution to fisheries should be punished by the fisheries administration concerned and fined according to the damage and losses caused, thus putting an end to the usual practice of environmental protection departments handling these cases. This is an important function the State entrusts to fisheries administrations. In this way, fisheries departments will strengthen the monitoring of fisheries water bodies and the collection of evidence. These measures are also suitable for the protection of the marine fisheries environment.
  6. Stocking in large water bodies is an important measure to enhance natural fisheries resources. During the past ten years, the restoration and increase of freshwater capture output has been closely related to stocking activities in different places. The country will pay more attention to this and develop it on a larger scale at a faster rate.

For more than ten years, aquaculture has been the fastest growing sector in terms of output. The State, while paying attention to grain production is giving increased emphasis to the development of culture activities, particularly aquaculture and livestock and poultry, to strengthen food security. By 2000, the proportion of aquaculture output is expected to be over 60 percent of the total fisheries output.

  1. Aquaculture areas will continue to be expanded, particularly marine aquaculture areas have great potential, and with more technical knowhow, the cultivable water areas can be further expanded. Freshwater aquaculture areas will be expanded mainly by developing untapped land and water areas, low-lying saline-alkaline wasteland, and making further use of large and medium-sized water bodies. Concrete stipulations will be worked out for auctioning land or transferring the rights of use of untapped land and water areas. Freshwater ponds will be reconstructed according to high standards. Some fish ponds have been taken over owing to the competition between land and water use. Therefore, in some major producing areas, protective zones around culture ponds will be set up.
  2. Intensive high-yield technology to raise per unit output will be spread and a large-scale and balanced increase in production will be promoted. The increase in output will be changed from an extensive pattern to an intensive one by promoting net-cage, net-enclosure and net-screen culture. Three-dimensional ecological culture technology will be developed.
  3. Integrated culture will continue, combining fisheries, agriculture, animal husbandry and sideline productions to raise the utilization ratio of water bodies and land areas, as well as the degree of self-sufficiency in fish feed supply.
  4. The propagation of original species and improved-variety bases will be promoted, directional systematic selection will be made, seed and fry quality will be improved, and improved-variety coverage will be raised. The seed and fry as intermediate products in the course of production will be exempt from the agriculture special products tax so as to increase initiative in seed and fry production.
  5. Improved technologies for keeping aquaculture products alive or fresh will be used, as well as those for processing and integrated utilization. Pre-production and post-production service facilities will be perfected and distribution channels will be set up to open up urban and rural markets.
  6. Commercial fish bases will be established to ensure supplies for large and medium-sized cities as well as for export.
  7. Paddy field fish culture will be expanded and new ways of farming fish in rice fields will be promoted, and finally,
  8. Pollution produced by aquaculture itself and the outbreak of fish diseases have become a great hindrance making it necessary to further study and control shrimp diseases to ensure sustainable, healthy development.

6. References

Cong, Z. M. and Li, T. The history of China fisheries. Beijing, China (1993).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). China fisheries statistics yearbook. Beijing, China (1985-1995 ).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). Reformation and development of China fisheries. Beijing, China (1989).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). Achievement, problems and development strategy of China fisheries. Beijing, China (1992 ).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). Fisheries resources of inland waters in China. Beijing, China (1990).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). Inland waters fishery divisions of China. Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China (1990).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). Marine fishery resources of China. Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China (1990).

Department of Aquatic Products (DAP). Coastal and mudflat fishery resources of intertidal zones and shallow seas in China. Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China (1990).

FAO. World fisheries statistics. Rome, Italy (1950-1993).

FAO. Reform and development of China's fisheries. FAO Fish. Circ. No. 822. Rome, Italy (1989 ).

Fisheries Project Office, Bureau of Aquatic Products. Project completion report of China freshwater fisheries project. Beijing, China (1992).

Guang, R. J. China fisheries policy and future development, the internal report of the Department of Aquatic Products. Beijing, China (1993).

Jiang, S. F. and Wang, X. Z. China fisheries statistics of forty years. Beijing, China (1991).

Lu, N. J. Fisheries infrastructure and markets of China, report for the Department of Aquatic Products. Beijing, China (1993).

Ministry of Agriculture PRC. China agriculture development report 1995. Beijing, China (1995).

National Statistics Bureau PRC. China statistics yearbook. Beijing, China (1994, 1995).

Qian, Z. L. and Guan, R. J. The development of the Chinese fisheries and manpower in aquaculture. Beijing, China (1994).

Zhang, C. Y. Fisheries resources and production of China, report for the Department of Aquatic Products. Beijing, China (1993).

Table 1. China fisheries production by sector (1949-1995)

(000 mt)


Marine capture

Freshwater capture


















































342 927

535 579

784 817

1 000 062

1 148 135

1 305 390

1 549 129

1 642 039

1 814 811

1 623 934

1 753 607

1 748 795

1 336 236

1 409 953

1 670 668

1 803 509

1 909 756

2 056 356

2 052 675

1 775 506

1 890 658

2 097 147

2 330 653

2 658 658

2 690 684

3 005 872

3 063 017

3 122 281

3 195 060

3 145 249

2 772 864

2 812 689

2 774 128

3 098 364

3 072 296

3 305 220

3 485 166

3 896 140

4 381 079

4 633 306

5 036 394

5 508 862

6 096 358

6 912 314

7 673 429

8 958 917

10 268 373

85 000

300 000

400 000

470 204

499 604

622 311

542 773

602 312

614 457

549 290

634 240

668 523

528 630

469 931

495 951

524 340

455 797

396 933

358 961

305 319

305 924

321 717

315 927

306 682

361 032

317 253

312 369

315 827

307 781

296 411

302 555

338 472

359 414

354 824

412 577

438 571

475 127

530 249

587 424

654 440

734 360

778 507

912 602

900 800

1 018 824

1 152 562

1 372 864

20 000

75 000

147 193

196 000

252 000

365 781

425 984

403 196

685 946

637 838

701 341

620 505

439 762

403 122

726 627

476 285

618 744

644 783

639 945

630 247

699 715

785 661

849 324

876 986

879 338

959 065

1 031 374

1 038 019

1 191 811

1 211 792

1 229 253

1 345 824

1 472 202

1 701 862

1 973 270

2 449 646

3 091 482

3 809 086

4 584 687

5 321 993

5 745 894

6 083 170

6 530 516

7 762 544

9 569 562

11 352 594

13 530 557

447 927

911 539

1 332 010

1 666 266

1 899 739

2 293 482

2 517 886

2 647 547

3 116 214

2 811 062

3 089 188

3 037 823

2 304 628

2 283 006

2 614 246

2 804 134

2 984 297

3 098 072

3 051 581

2 711 072

2 899 297

3 184 525

3 495 904

3 842 326

3 931 054

4 282 181

4 411 760

4 476 127

4 694 652

4 653 482

4 304 672

4 496 985

4 605 744

5 155 050

5 458 143

6 193 437

7 051 775

8 235 475

9 553 200

10 609 739

11 516 648

12 370 548

13 539 476

15 575 658

18 261 815

21 464 073

25 171 794

Table 2. Exports and imports of fisheries products by weight and value (1978-1995)


(thousand mt)

(million US$)

(thousand mt)

(million US$)
















































1 038.99

1 369.79

1 181.16

1 678.12

1 646.77

2 606.99

3 290.00












1 042.00


1 268.56

1 340.00
















Table 3. Major species of marine capture production (1995)



Big yellow croaker

Small yellow croaker


Chinese herring


Conger pike

Red coat



Chub mackerel

Round scad



Pacific herring

Filleted fish


Southern rough shrimp

Northern mauxia shrimp

Swimming crab

Cuttle fish

Jelly fish

67 031

153 048

1 039 684

46 635

226 520

154 867

224 574

209 031

58 576

372 038

515 298

489 066

58 434

2 325

122 358

43 043

151 746

390 402

243 485

213 772

171 905

Table 4. Water areas of China and 1995 hectare output


Total area

Cultivable area

Cultured area

Average production







Shallow water*

Mud flats

Bays and gulfs

17 471 300

1 921 560

2 524 250

2 301 630

5 277 750


7 848 153

1 966 386


6 749 250

1 921 560

2 150 540

1 883 830

766 130

2 600 110

1 622 560

797 000

180 550

4 669 340

1 857 810

824 330

1 515 620

347 330

715 750

131 760

424 570

159 420

2 015

3 742



1 337

5 760

17 195

3 656

1 912

* Shallow water area - within 10-meter water depth.

Table 5. Chinese exports of fisheries products by major kind (1994)



Value (US$)

Live fish

Fish (fresh/frozen)

Fish (refrigerated)

Fish (prepared and preserved)




Crustaceans and invertebrates

(prepared and preserved)


Gelatin (brown algae)



67 325 788

42 669 576

69 561 394

33 725 209

93 208 854

101 327 386

185 272 714

28 412 679

35 567 860

11 007 277

469 237

15 633 669

188 705 348

118 944 277

187 324 464

428 144 119

167 181 291

570 931 912

451 217 834

95 070 281

56 921 081

30 378 012

167 116 925

145 058 703


684 181 643

2 606 994 247

Table 6. Chinese imports of fisheries products by major kind (1994)



Value (US$)

Live fish

Fish (fresh/frozen)

Fish (refrigerated)

Fish (dry/salted/smoked)






416 398

18 339 531

470 858 464

11 932 684

29 960 889

37 970 681

667 841 877

48 283

31 197 908

95 276 766

13 351 138

252 695 916

26 407 963

126 029 007

46 597 153

277 381 543

3 461 856

26 869 482


1 268 566 715

868 070 824

Table 7. Number of fisheries labourers and fishing boats (1978-1995)


Fishery labourers

Fishing boats

Fishing boats



















2 401 208

2 653 615

2 950 344

3 283 649

3 825 352

4 256 968

5 113 810

5 954 193

7 307 657

7 988 479

8 540 723

8 780 465

9 092 926

9 202 780

9 664 534

10 071 681

10 843 890

11 428 655

47 176

52 225

61 022

75 109

99 328

124 368

152 606

185 336

221 917

267 990

303 935

336 254

362 377

373 964

384 531

397 735

409 346

432 674

350 360

344 190

382 583

403 873

423 909

475 052

560 678

570 757

540 544

574 283

533 264

523 974

548 249

534 684

560 452

494 468

519 487

530 467

Table 8. Major external assistance to the China fisheries sector



Funding agency

Cost (million US$)

1. Development of fishery in Hongze County, Jiangsu Province

2. Developing aquaculture in the low-lying areas on Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang Province

3. Development of fish and forage production in low-lying saline-alkaline areas in Tianjin City

4. Development of aquaculture in low-lying areas, Boyang Lake, Jiangxi Province

5. Development of coastal aquaculture in Bohai Bay

6. Development of integrated fish farming in nine cities

7. Sino-Norway Cooperation Project

8. Mariculture Demonstration Project

9. China Freshwater Fisheries Project

10. Rural Credit II

11. Coastal Lands Development Project in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces

12. Hebai Agriculture Development Project

13. Guangdong Agriculture Development Project

14. Shanddong Agriculture Development Project

15. Songliao Agriculture Development Project, Jilin and Liaoning Provinces

16. Pilot plant for compound fish feed, Shaoxing County, Zhejinag Province

17. Pilot project to increase fish farm output, Tianjin City and Zhejiang Province

18. Marine fisheries development, Fujian Province

19. Fisheries Development in Qinghai Province

20. Guangdong integrated freshwater fish-farming project




























Norway Govt.


World Bank

World Bank

World Bank

World Bank

World Bank

World Bank

World Bank













18.0 (NOK)














Figure 1. Map of China

Ministry of Agriculture

Bureau of Fisheries

Staff Office

Personnel Division

Fisheries Policies, Laws and Regulations Division

Planning and Statistics Division

Finance Division

Scientific Technology and Education Division

Environment Protection Division

Capture Fisheries Division

Aquaculture Division

Market Information Division

Quality Standard and Fishery Machinery Division

Aquatic Products Processing Division

Fisheries Administration Division

Aquatic Wildlife Protection & Management Division

Telecommunications and Navigation Division

Fishing Port Superintendence and Safety Division

International Cooperation Division

Distant Water Fisheries Division

Figure 2. Organizational structure of the Bureau of Fisheries

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