China says Yangtze River fishing is no longer viable and installs a ban

Increased human activity in recent years has damaged biodiversity along the Yangtze River. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China will impose a 10-year ban on fishing in some key parts of the Yangtze from next year to protect biodiversity along the Asia's longest river.

The move means more than 100,000 fishing vessels will be made redundant and some 300,000 fish farmers will have to be relocated, agriculture vice-minister Yu Kangzhen said.

Such a large-scale ban is "unprecedented and rare", he said, adding that the nation has already restricted fishing this year in 332 protection zones along the river.

Increased human activity in recent years has damaged biodiversity in the area.

Rare and endemic fish populations have shrunk, while commercial fish resources have been exhausted, Mr Yu said.

Fish output from the river, which earlier used to account for 60 per cent of the country's total fish production, is now less than 0.2 per cent of the roughly 60 million tonnes produced in a year, said Mr Yu.

That shows fishing in the river is no longer viable, he added.

The ban is a key measure to help reverse the deterioration of the Yangtze River's ecosystem, he said.

Fish farmers will be compensated and trained to grow rice or start artificial fish farming.

The country will continue to crackdown on illegal fishing, he said.

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