Fisheries to get more protection

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China will intensify management of the fishing industry in its territory, an annual national fishery conference heard on Thursday.

"Normal patrols to safeguard fishing around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea will be organized in 2011," said Zhao Xingwu, director of the Fishery Administration under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Protection of fisheries through accompanying patrols will be improved around the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea to crack down on illegal fishing, he said, and activities will be increased in the country's other waters such as the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.

At present, China has 2,287 fishery administration ships, among which 528 were built in the past five years, statistics from the ministry show.

"The country has highlighted its construction of fishery administration ships with higher tonnage to better safeguard its sea territory and fishermen over the past five years," Niu Dun, vice-minister of agriculture said at the conference, citing the country's fastest fishery administration vessel, China Yuzheng 310, had been put to sea in November.

Analysts said China is still far behind countries such as Japan and Vietnam, whose patrol ships are all equipped with modern weapons.

Current Chinese patrol ships are too small, and cannot guarantee long-distance escort trips, said Zhou Yongsheng, deputy chief of the Japan Studies Center at the Beijing-based China Foreign Affairs University.

"Sea patrols are different from on the ground, because if anything happens it takes much longer for backup forces to reach the scene, and if the vessels themselves aren't sufficiently prepared there's no other resources they can turn to, and that makes it difficult to deliver timely protection," he said.

The country's output of aquatic products will reach 53.5 million tons this year, according to a statement released after the conference.

Fishermen's per capita net income this year is expected to reach 8,963 yuan ($1,350), an average annual increase of 8.8 percent since 2006.

Niu praised achievements in the fishery industry over the past five years, especially as the country has been frequently hit by natural disasters and severely affected by the global financial crisis.

The minister said government's supportive policies are primary reasons for the achievements.

In the past five years, 37 billion yuan has been invested to support fishery development, seven times that invested from 2001 to 2005, he said.

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