Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

Case Applications of Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Systems, and Global Positioning System for Marine Fishery Management in China

Jilong Li, Changshui Ge, Qiquan Huang, Lihua Wang, Xiaoshu Li, Jing Jia


Marine fishery production is the world’s most spatially extensive economic activity. It is carried out fairly intensively over approximately 15% of Earth’s surface and extensively over a significant proportion of the remaining maritime areas. The global fishery crisis was the topic of a complete special edition of The Ecologist (1995). Many problems associated with marine fisheries and resources extraction have their roots in some kind of spatial differentiation. Thus, it is sensible to assume that better space management could be vital to alleviating some of the present crisis.

Applications of geographic information systems (GISs) and remote sensing (RS) to marine fishery management—indeed, to any marine applications—to date have been limited and mostly confined to peripheral areas such as coastal zone management, pollution monitoring, mariculture activities planning, and shoreline mapping. Marine fishery applications of GIS and RS have been slow to develop because of difficulties in mapping marine environment phenomena and fishery activities. These difficulties may result from the constant changes in the marine environment and fishing activities, problems with data collection, and difficulty in defining boundaries around marine resource distribution. Recognition of the spatial aspects of fishery management, suitable databases in many areas of fishery resources, and integration of decision making among those responsible for fisheries management are all lacking, thus impeding the successful application of GIS and RS to marine fisheries. However, there is now a growing body of literature by authors and research workers who envision the potential for marine applications (e.g., Caddy and Garcia 1986; Humphreys 1989; Kapetsky 1989, 1994; Jeffries-Harris 1992; Simard et al. 1992; Simpson 1992; Green and Stockdale 1993; Ibrekk et al. 1993; Caddy et al. 1995; Kapetsky and Travaglia 1995).

China, as the largest fishery country (measured as mean total production), has gradually applied GIS and RS techniques to marine fishery management. This paper summarizes the present status of GIS and RS applications on marine fishery management in China. The results of case studies (e.g., coastal resources and environment management in the Bohai Sea, marine living resources mapping, and fishery treaty consultation) indicate that RS, GIS, and even Global Positioning System (GPS) techniques are useful tools for marine fishery management. They can be used to identify environment changes and resource uses, depict resource distribution, and analyze the relationships among resources, environmental factors, and resource exploitation.

The project, financially supported by the Asian Development Bank and steered by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, includes a significant component to investigate the coverage of environmental monitoring in the Bohai Sea and the resultant flow of information to decision makers. The main output of this particular activity is the preparation of a prototype Environmental Monitoring Information System (EMIS). This GIS-based database system gathers sufficient and appropriate information from the existing environmental monitoring networks and processes it for forwarding to a wide audience involved in the planning and management of the resources and environment of the Bohai Sea.

Two elements underpin the design of EMIS:

• information requirements have been solicited from different potential users to develop a range of analyses and outputs pertinent to resource management and planning; and
• EMIS outputs and development are aimed at improving information flows among existing monitoring networks, scientific researchers involved in natural resource management, and decision makers.