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All major bodies of waters in China are now subject to seasonal fishing bans as the latest fishing moratoriums were approved.
The fishing ban along the Haihe, Liaohe and Songhua rivers runs from May 16 until July 31 each year, and the annual moratorium on the Qiantang River lasts from March 1 to June 30, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
"The Haihe, Liaohe and Songhua rivers in northern China are home to more than 100 species of fish, and at least three species are listed as rare or threatened animals that require special protection," Yu Kangzhen, vice-minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said at a news conference on Monday.
"In recent years, conservation efforts in these areas have been thwarted by pollution, overfishing, water shortages and construction, which damaged the environment for fish and led to a sharp, rapid decline in aquatic resources," he said.
Yu added that the new seasonal bans are expected to replace the lax supervision of regional authorities for coordinated management of fisheries along each river.
From 2002 to 2018, China enacted fishing closures across the Yangtze, Pearl, Huaihe and Yellow rivers, covering large parts of the country"s internal waters.
"Earlier regulations have played a significant role in limiting fish catches, safeguarding fishing resources and the aquatic environment and maintaining diversity in these areas," Yu said.
Zhang Xianliang, director of the ministry"s fisheries administration, said the designation of a fishing moratorium is based on both the breeding habits of aquatic creatures and the demands of fishery workers.
"We will evaluate the implementation of the rule following the closure of fishing this year, and revisions to the rule will be made based on our findings," he said.
On Jan 11, authorities in agriculture, finance, human resources and social security jointly launched a plan to reimburse fishery workers who will be affected by the implementation of a year-round fishing ban across major tributaries of the Yangtze.
The plan was prompted by a guideline issued by the State Council in October that will forbid fishing - apart from fish farming in major parts of the Yangtze all year by 2020.
Yu, of the agriculture ministry, said on Monday that the harsher ban was introduced to restore the rapidly deteriorating environment along the river.
"The annual amount of fishing has declined from 450,000 metric tons in the 1950s to less than 100,000 tons in recent years," he said.
The plan requires local and central governments to provide financial support, employment services, training and social insurance programs to fishery workers, Yu said.