China’s fishing ban has locals paying more

Published on
June 6, 2012

Zhejiang Provincial Ocean & Fisheries Bureau is reporting that local fishermen in the east coast province earned an average RMB 15,443 in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 11.6 percent.

The figure, however, looks modest next to the average urban wage in China but significantly better than rural incomes. Urban residents earned an average of RMB 23,979 in 2011 compared to a per-capita income of rural residents in 2011, which stood at RMB 6,977, up RMB 1,058 from the previous year.

Meanwhile, Zhejiang fishermen can look forward to vocational training courses offered by government this summer during the annual ban on fishing in the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. The East China Sea Fishery, a unit of the agriculture ministry, enforces a ban that covers parts of the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. Fishing will resume on 1 August in parts of the East China Sea outside the zone.

The fishing ban has pushed up local fish prices. Local media is reporting a 30 percent jump in mackerel prices (to RMB 44 per kilogram) in Qingdao wet markets since 1 June when the June-September ban on fishing the Yellow Sea came into force. Separately, the price of hairtail and pomfret has climbed 10 percent in the two weeks in the two weeks running up to the ban, according to Yan Jiaolin, a wholesaler at Zhejiang Nongdu Aquatic Market, who spoke to local media.

Despite environmental pressures and rising labor costs, leading seafood-producing provinces like Zhejiang continue to ramp up production. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China’s output of aquatic products totaled 53.6 million tons in 2011, up 4.9 percent year-on-year. The NBS data shows “cultured aquatic products” amounted to 38.5 million tons, up 6.3 percent, while “fished aquatic products” rose 1.4 percent year-on-year to 15.16 million tons.

The bulk of output is concentrated in a handful of east coast provinces including Zhejiang. An index of industry clusters compiled by Beijing Zeefer Consulting shows that Zhejiang province, which circles the mega-city of Shanghai, is home to 346 seafood enterprises with more than RMB 5 million in annual revenues. That puts the province only second to its northerly neighbor Shandong, the location of 541 enterprises. According to Zeefer, there are 2,093 firms in China’s seafood industry, making more than RMB 5 million a year.

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