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Fishers Strive to Protect Sea Life
Fishermen from Zhejiang of East China's coastal province called on fellow fishermen worldwide to reduce fishing to avoid further depletion of ocean resources on Friday.

The fishermen, who held a press conference in Beijing on Friday, said they would also send letters to the United Nations secretary-general and heads of government of all countries with sea territories, urging them to pay greater attention to the "reasonable exploitation of ocean resources."

Situated alongside the East China Sea with its abundance of fish, Zhejiang traditionally leads China's fishing industry. In 1995, however, fishermen from Xiangshan county, the largest fishing port in the province, voluntarily proposed that the government impose a temporary fishing ban during summer - to protect the fish during their spawning season.

Since then, the "summer fishing break" has been adopted as a regular policy in China and is practiced every year. Usually the fishing ban starts in June and ends in September.

Fishermen present at Friday's press conference pledged that after the lifting of the ban in September, Chinese fishermen would follow the fishing pact signed between China and its neighboring countries to the letter, steadily reduce their catch and the size of their fishing vessels.

Moreover, they asked the Chinese Government to extend next year's "summer fishing break" by starting it one month earlier.

While reduced fishing will definitely affect the fishermen's income, an official from Xiangshan county said the local government would try to make it up by developing oceanic-ecological tourism, seeking more foreign investment and readjusting the industrial structure in the locality.

As part of the efforts, Xiangshan county plans to host a grand festival on Chinese fishing culture in September. This is expected to draw visitors from all over the world, said the official.

(China Daily July 8, 2002)

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