Overfishing depleting sea resources

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"Other countries, such as South Korea and Japan, generally have strict limits on the size of fishing net holes used by fishing boats. However, the regulation is generally lax in Chinese waters," he said.

Almost every fishing boat is now equipped with fish-detecting devices, which also contributes to rampant overfishing.

"About 10 years ago when you put a bucket into the sea, you could probably catch three fish. Five years ago, you could catch maybe one or two. Now you barely stand a chance of catching any," said Gao Yuefei, owner of a fishing boat in Rizhao.

Meanwhile, with the cost of diesel rising from about 2,000 yuan ($320) per ton to 8,000 yuan per ton over the past 10 years and the wages of workers on the boat also rising, Gao said intensive fishing seems like the only option.

"We will certainly suffer losses if we use the previous methods. If previously we could trawl 100 times, now we need to trawl 120 times to make ends meet," he said.

"Sometimes the fishing boat owners earn less than their employees," he added.

Hou Jiwei, the fisherman, said he could earn an average of 70,000 yuan a year, but his boss sometimes earned less than 30,000 yuan.

The drive for profit has not only pushed fishermen farther out to sea, it has also brought them into conflict with South Korean coast guards in the Yellow Sea.

Coast guards from South Korea captured or sent back more than 470 Chinese fishing ships in 2011 on allegations of having crossed into South Korean waters in search of seafood in local waters, Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported.

Gao said fishing boats travel close to South Korean waters in October and November, due to stormy weather in those months.

"We would generally try our luck in winds between force 8 and 10 on the Beaufort scale. The big wind and waves make it difficult for South Korean boats to get near," he said.

However, penalties are high for those who are caught.

"The South Korean coast guards fine us 300,000 yuan and the Chinese authorities will also revoke our diesel subsidy of 100,000 yuan as punishment," said Hou.


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