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Fishery Official Supports UN Agreement on Sustainable Fishing
China's top fishery official Yang Jian lauded a United Nations-led plan designed to replenish the world's falling fish stocks Sunday, adding the country is well on course to realize sustainable fishing.

Referring to an agreement to salvage the world's depleted fisheries reached last week at the United Nations (UN) Earth Summit in Johannesburg, Yang said the move is a positive response by the international community to tackle the fishing resources crisis.

"China has come to realize that the conservation of fishing resources is a continuous process, which calls for ever-enhanced and never-yielding protective efforts," the newspaper quoted Yang as saying.

Domestically, fishing resources have dwindled significantly because of years of overfishing and water pollution, said fishery experts.

Ministry of Agriculture reports indicate that China had nearly a quarter-million offshore fishing boats in 2000, more than four times as many as 20 years ago, according to the paper.

Stepping up from the "zero growth" offshore-fishing policy in place since 1999, the Chinese Government is determined to secure "negative growth" in offshore and inland-water fishing in 2002 and beyond, Yang said.

To achieve this, boats are being removed from the fishing fleet and affected fishermen are being transferred to other jobs, Yang said, adding that the development of aquaculture (fishing farming) is another important facet.

Jim Harkness, chief representative of the World Wildlife Fund China, said aquaculture can reduce demand on wild fisheries, but also has negative environmental consequences such as water pollution and the destruction of coastal and wetland habitats.

(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2002)

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