The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development covers 17 goals, the 14th of which is “Life Below Water”, namely: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Under this major goal, there are 10 targets, the 14.4 of which is “By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.”
About 90% of the fish caught by humans come from the ocean!
The ocean has nurtured countless lives, and undertaken the supply of seafood in our daily lives. But have you ever thought: that if the fish resources in the ocean are exhausted one day, how will we make a living?
In 2018, the top seven countries accounted for more than 50% of the total amount of marine fishing: China (15%), Peru, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, the United States, India, and Vietnam. Major fishing countries such as China and the United States are gradually reducing their fishing yields, while the yields of Russia, India, and Indonesia also remain unchanged from previous years, with growth rates controlled within 1% to 5%.
As the country with the largest fishing volume of the ocean in the world, China has strictly controlled fishing practices in recent years, maintaining a continuous downward trend in fishing volume, from 13.8 million tons per year in 2015 – 2017 to 12.7 million tons in 2018. During the “13th Five Year Plan” period (2016 – 2020), two tasks were carried out, namely, “dual control” of fishing vessels and quota setting for marine fishing output. By reducing the number and horsepower of marine fishing vessels, China is gradually realizing the adaptation of fishing intensity and resources available for fishing, reflecting its determination to protect the marine ecological environment and develop sustainable fisheries. It is expected that China’s marine fishing volume will further decrease in the next few years.
Similar to China, the decrease in the growth rate of marine fishing production in various countries is partly due to the increasing attention and active response of the international community to the degradation of marine ecosystems, mainly through actions at the international, regional, national and local levels to protect or restore biodiversity, a key component of sustainable fishing.
However, the current distribution of successful cases of fisheries sustainability is uneven, with some developed countries continuously improving their management methods of fisheries, while some developing countries suffering from overcapacity and deteriorating fish population conditions. Compared to areas with strong management measures of fisheries, areas with relatively loose management measures have an average catch of three times higher and an estimated population richness reduced by half. Such loose management is common in many developing countries, and overfishing still exists worldwide. Therefore, we still need to adjust and apply successful policies and measures based on actual conditions to effectively implement policies and management norms of sustainable fisheries.
As an important component of China’s marine fisheries, the marine capture industry can drive the development of the secondary and tertiary industries of marine fisheries. As the upstream of the fishery industry chain, i.e., the production and supply section, it plays a fundamental supporting role in the development of the entire industry chain. In addition, it also plays a positive linkage role in promoting the overall development of the fishery economy.
With the development of the fishery economy, the marine capture industry has developed rapidly. According to the data from the China Fisheries Statistical Yearbook, the overall output value of China’s marine capture fisheries has shown a growth trend from 2013 to 2020. In 2013, the total output value of China’s marine capture fisheries reached 185.5 billion yuan, and by 2020, it has increased to 219.7 billion yuan. The marine capture fisheries has become an important component of China’s fisheries development.
Due to the impact of marine environmental pollution and overfishing, the decline trend of China’s offshore fishery resources has continued to worsen since the 1970s. The sharp decline in the number of traditional fishing species has caused a huge blow to the development of the fishing industry. In recent years, China has implemented marine fishery systems such as the “zero growth system”, the fishing license system, the off-season fishing moratorium system, the system of transferring to other industries, and the dual control system, but the actual results have not yet achieved the expected management goals, and the recovery of marine fishery resources still has a long way to go.
In the future, while strictly implementing the existing management system of fisheries, it is necessary to actively improve the fishing industry access system, carry out pilot offshore fishing quotas, and strictly control offshore fishing intensity. We shall continue to develop resource conservationbased marine fisheries, vigorously promote the conservation of offshore fishery resources, increase the proliferation and release of marine organisms, strengthen the construction of artificial fish reefs and marine pastures, and protect important aquatic germplasm resources and rare and endangered marine organisms through the construction of a number of demonstration areas of offshore marine ecological restoration to achieve ecological restoration of marine fishery resources. We shall actively promote the fishery ecological labeling system, induce producers to adopt environmentally friendly operation methods from the market side, achieve the purpose of conserving resources and protecting the environment, and promote sustainable development of fisheries.
Panama has introduced new law to regulate and encourage fishing and aquaculture
Panama introduced the Law 204 of March 18, 2021, which regulates and encourages activities such as aquaculture, sport, industrial and artisanal fishing according to international standards and the latest technologies.The regulations stipulate that it will also be able to establish and implement the conservation and management measures that are necessary, through the ecosystem management of aquatic resources, to guarantee the sustainable use of aquaculture and fishing resources.The law specifies that any person engaged in aquaculture, fishing or fishing-related activities must be registered in the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Information and Statistics System.
For the benefit of current and future generations, the regulation aims to regulate fishing, aquaculture, and fisheries related activities, ensuring that these activities can be conducted in a sustainable manner. It is reported that its general objectives include managing and promoting the sustainable use of aquaculture and fishery resources, as well as supporting and facilitating scientific and technological research in fisheries, aquaculture and related activities; It also establishes and defines the principles to order, promote and regulate the integral management and sustainable use of fishing and aquaculture, considering the social, economic, technological, productive, biological and environmental aspects; It also includes promotion measures that promote and guarantee economic investment in terms of competitiveness, both locally and in exports in fishing, aquaculture, related activities and activities related to fishing.
Decades of overfishing, together with nutrient pollution, rapid increase in hypoxia, ocean warming and acidification have put fish and harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the western Baltic Sea at risk of collapse.The first ecosystem model that covers the complete food web of the western Baltic Sea predicts how marine life in the region would react to different fisheries scenarios and additional human-induced stressors. The model simulations reveal that ecosystem-based fisheries management would restore stocks of commercially relevant fish species and the endangered harbor porpoise population. Marine life would become more resilient, and options for additional carbon sequestration would open up, a team of marine scientists explains in a new study.
“Past and present overfishing -- not climate change -- was the main cause of the recent collapse of herring, cod, and profitable western Baltic fisheries in general. Continued business-as-usual would in addition push the highly endangered harbor porpoise to the brink of extinction. In contrast, ecosystem-based management would rebuild healthy stocks and fisheries and even help us to fight climate change. Saving the western Baltic requires to stop fishing of cod and herring for a few years, until these stocks have recovered. During this time, fishers need to be compensated for their losses,” says Dr. Rainer Froese, fisheries biologist at GEOMAR and co-author of the study.
As the longest river with the largest water flow in China, the Yangtze River carries an important material source for the people along the river. Since ancient times, the Yangtze River has nurtured generations of people. Its water sources irrigate farmland and crops, and its schools of fish are the source of food for millions of people. After 2000, with the rapid development of human society and the sharp increase of population, there is an urgent need for a large amount of food. Therefore, the fish stocks in the Yangtze River basin were once overfished, leading to the extinction of many fish species. The most distressing thing is that the Yangtze River dolphin was declared functionally extinct after it was not discovered in 2006.
The national government has gradually started to standardize the management of the fishing industry since 2003, implementing a four-month fishing ban between March and July each year, but with little success. The governments of various provinces and municipalities along the Yangtze River decided to gradually implement a 10-year fishing ban system from January 1, 2020, after comprehensive coordination and discussion. If there is a need to arrange for the resettlement of fishermen, the latest date should not exceed January 1, 2021, which means that as of September 2022, it has been nearly two years since the implementation of the fishing ban system in the Yangtze River. How are the fish in the Yangtze River now? According to the photos of the Yangtze River released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and news agencies, there has been a significant increase in the number of fish stocks in the river, such as the rare Yangtze River finless porpoises, which have also been discovered by many netizens, and the number of finless porpoises is significantly higher than that before the fishing ban.
There is an increasing demand for jobs in modern society. Even if fishermen do not have the job of fishing for a living, they can also devote themselves to other jobs. With modern technology and artificial farms, people can easily achieve “freedom to eat fish”. Not like the last century, when food was scarce and people have to fish, people’s living conditions have been improved, and their food choices have become more diverse. In modern times, people emphasize a scientific diet with meat and vegetables. If every meal is full of fish and meat, it is detrimental to health. In short, the fishing ban system is a rare and excellent measure.
Shenzhen Bay is located in the main development axis of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the gateway area of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. It is a semi enclosed urban inner bay shared by Shenzhen and Hong Kong, with a narrow outside and a wide inside. A few years ago, Shenzhen Bay experienced the pain of pollution, with outstanding issues such as bad water quality, black and smelly seawater, and ecological imbalances, which have received widespread attention. In recent years, the municipal Party committee and government have launched a tough battle for pollution prevention and control. All districts and departments have made concerted efforts to rectify pollution comprehensively and systematicallyin Shenzhen Bay, with significant results. The ecological environment and biodiversity in Shenzhen Bay have continued to improve. The quality of river water flowing into the sea in Shenzhen Bay has significantly improved, and the sea water is basically odorless and not black.
At around 8:40 on October 26, 2021, a large number of fish scrambled to jump out of the water near the No. 12 drain of the Shenzhen Bay Park. Amid the exclamation of tourists, the water surface nearly 100 meters wide suddenly “boiled.” It lasted for about three minutes. Today, the coast of Shenzhen Bay has become a major area for leisure and entertainment for many citizens, with an endless stream of people cycling, running, and sightseeing every day. The beautiful scenery of fish swimming and birds gathering appears again, and the harmonious coexistence of human and nature is displayed here.
On January 1, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including 169 targets, of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force. Countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
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