The Hulan Section of the Songhua River Still Has Massive Illegal Fishing During the Fishing Ban Period, and Some Section of the River Seem To Have Been Leased Out | CBCGDF Research Department Calls On Local Authorities to Strengthen Fisheries Management
2020/5/21 13:22:00 本站

On the morning of May 19th, ACheng, a volunteer of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) living in Harbin, and several other volunteers, as usual, drove a speedboat to the river section in Hulan District for patrol. This is their fourth day of continuous patrol recently.


The river is windy. When they reached the corresponding section of the river, the scene in front of them did not exceed the preset of ACheng. There is only a piece of the vertical fishnet on the light blue open river. Only one bamboo stick sticks out of the water on the surface of the river, but there is a kind of local fish net called "Da Xuan" (also called an enchanted array) hanging below. In the Nearshore area, despite the fact that it is a closed fishing season, there are still fishermen gathering ground to cage fish.


“The phenomenon of illegal fishing here is very serious, all kinds of fishing nets are everywhere, and such a situation has lasted for more than a month.” According to another volunteer who participated in the on-site patrol for many times, at the end of March and the beginning of April this year, when the Songhua River just turned into ice and opened up, volunteers had found a large number of illegal electric fishing boats in the Hulan section of Harbin. “Because the river is far away from the shore, people can usually see the boats in the river, but they don’t know what they are doing, but experienced people know that they are illegal electrofishing at the first sight.” Volunteers said that the boat with a high mast and various wires hanging down from the bow is an electrofishing boat. There are usually inverters and other devices in the cabin. As long as the boat reaches the place where the fish are gathered, all the fish in the river will be electrocuted when the power is on.


On April 3rd, with the cooperation of volunteers, the Hulan District fishery administration department launched a centralized attack on illegal electrofishing in this section of the river. In the confiscated illegal fishing tools, it is unexpectedly found that there is an inverter of up to 30,000 volts, which is 30 - 150 times of the voltage of electric injury to the human body (under normal circumstances, 220 - 1000 volts can cause the heart and breath of the human body to be paralyzed at the same time, or even die). Its destructive power to aquatic organisms can be imagined. The time period of centralized electrofishing is just after the river is opened and before the annual fishing ban.


"In the area where the electrofishing boat passes, not only the large and small fish have no electricity, but also some escaped fish, especially the female fish, who survived by chance, will not spawn anymore. Therefore, the electrofishing is recognized as a fishing method with no offspring, which is prohibited by the National Fisheries Law." Volunteers said that after the joint law enforcement crackdown on the electrofishing boats, no electrofishing boats were seen in the daytime in Hulan River section, but at night or in the remote river section with few people, it was still found from time to time that someone came out to fish in the early morning. In addition, volunteers found that in addition to the Hulan River section, in the Daowai District of Harbin, the Minzhu village river section, the Dading mountain water conservancy special new river section, the Baiyupao wetland, and the riverside wetland nature reserve river section, there were sneaking electrofishing boats, as well as all kinds of nets densely arranged along both sides of the Songhua River, including ultra-small net, dense eye ground cage net, Tuliangzi, large rotation, dense eye foil, and many other illegal fishing gears. These illegal fishing tools are mostly set in the riverside wetlands or shoals on both sides of the Songhua River, which is also an important place for fish, shrimp, crab, and other freshwater aquatic organisms to breed and take the bait.


On May 16th, according to the official entry into force of the Songhua River fishing ban period announced by the Heilongjiang Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, although the fishery administration department has also carried out joint law enforcement on illegal fishing for many times, volunteers found that illegal fishing in these areas is still prohibited repeatedly. Some illegal fishermen are not only having no fear but also openly obstruct law enforcement, revile, threaten volunteers, and even intimidate volunteers with scythes when volunteers cooperate with local fishery authorities in law enforcement. "A cage net can catch more than 100 jin of fish, and these illegal fishers can earn more than 5,000 RMB a day, which is one of the main reasons why illegal fishing always occurs”, volunteers said.


In order to protect the Songhua River’s aquatic resources, CBCGDF volunteers have taken the initiative to patrol both sides of the Songhua River since the spring of this year and began to clean up illegal fishing nets. According to preliminary statistics, since the May fishing ban, CBCGDF volunteers have cleared 150 ground cages, each about 20 - 50m long, with a total length of more than 4,000 meters, and 5 sets of large nets, with a total length of 1,000 meters and more than 10 hanging nets, within the range of about five kilometers of Hulan section of Songhua River.


In the process of cleaning up an illegal fishing gear in the Songhua River, CBCGDF's volunteers also found that every other distance in the Harbin river section, there is a fishing house regularly distributed on the river surface, and illegal fishermen usually call it "their own fishing area". By visiting surrounding fishermen, volunteers suspected that the river sections had been subcontracted. On the morning of May 19th, the Hulan fishery administration department and local public security detachment of food, drug, and environment found a large number of illegal cage nets and hanging nets on the water surface of Fangtai Town, Hulan District. When fishery administration personnel and volunteers collected illegal fishing gear together, they also learned that the water surface of the river section had been contracted. “It is still in the process of further understanding whether the water surface section or underwater resources have been contracted out”, said officials from the relevant departments involved in law enforcement on the site.


According to China’s Fisheries Law, fishing activities in China’s waters and fishing activities in the high seas conducted by Chinese fishing vessels shall be approved by the examination and approval authorities and obtain fishing licenses, and shall be carried out in accordance with the types, places, time limits, quantity and specifications of fishing gear and fishing varieties approved by the fishing licenses. According to the regulations of the Songhua River Basin, the fishing ban will be from 12:00 on May 16th to 12:00 on July 31st. The Fisheries Law and its closed period are designed to protect the sustainable utilization of aquatic biological resources. However, there has been such illegal and excessive fishing in the Hulan section of the Songhua River for a long time. CBCGDF's Research Department hopes to attract the attention of the Heilongjiang Provincial Party Committee and Government and take effective measures to eradicate the illegal fishing in relevant river sections, so as to completely change the current chaotic situation and protect the water resources of Songhua River.

(Video and photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)

Original Chinese article:

By / Xue Tongtong Modified / Maggie