Fishery Resources, Environment, and Conservation in the Mississippi and Yangtze (Changjiang) River Basins

Development and Reform of Lake Commercial Fisheries in the Yangtze River Basin, China

Yuxi Lian, Jiashou Liu, Yushun Chen, Jing Yuan, and Zhongjie Li

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874448.ch4

Abstract.—Lakes are very important resources for fisheries production in China. The total area of lakes for commercial fisheries in China reaches 1.02 million ha, which accounts for 18% of the total freshwater aquaculture area. China has gained rich experience developing lake commercial fisheries over the past 60 years. In the 1950s, lake fisheries were primarily focused on the capture of natural aquatic animal species. With the success of the artificial reproduction of the four domestic carps (Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Bighead Carp H. nobilis (also known as Aristichthys nobilis), Grass Carp Ctenopharyngodon idella, and Black Carp Mylopharyngodon piceus), stock-enhanced fisheries became the main production method in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, large-scale resources investigations all over China were conducted, some stocking and management theories that were based on primary production developed, and fish production potentials for lakes were determined. The united fishing method was created during this period, which significantly increased the capture efficiency in large lakes. In the 1980s, semi-intensive and intensive aquaculture methods, including application of fertilizers and artificial feeds, cage culture, and pen culture, were applied to lake and reservoir fisheries, which substantially increased fishery production and also the income of fishermen. However, intensive aquaculture in lakes has caused serious environmental problems, such as ecosystem degradation, exhaustion of natural fisheries resources, decreased biodiversity, and increased eutrophication. Sustainable development of fisheries in lakes of the Yangtze River basin has been facing unprecedented challenges, both to the environment and to human society. More and more attention has focused on the balance between fisheries development and environmental protection in the past two decades. Ecofishery is a possible solution to this potential conflict. As a strategy for lake fisheries reform, it is suggested that use of natural food resources in lakes should be more efficient than present, and lake fisheries should be developed based on ecosystem restorations.