The fishing ban on Yangtze River long-tailed anchovies, starting on Feb 1, 2019, is bearing fruit as a necessary measure taken to protect biodiversity in China's longest waterway.
The average single catch for Yangtze River long-tailed anchovies was 2 kilograms this year, the best in the past five years, according to Xu Pao, director of the Freshwater Fisheries Research Center (FFRC) of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences.
Compared with the average index between 2015 and 2018, the amount has increased by 155 percent, Xu said.
The Yangtze River has long been suffering from human activities such as overfishing, pollution and damming. Biological deterioration has also reduced fishing along the Yangtze, which now only produces 0.32 percent of China's total freshwater aquatic products.
Chen Xingfa, a fisherman in Jiangyin, remembers that locals caught very few Yangtze River long-tailed anchovies for eight consecutive days in 2012, while in the 1960s they could catch over 1 ton in one session.
Statistics from FFRC show that the annual catch for Yangtze River long-tailed anchovies was about 4,142 tons in 1973, but only 57.5 tons in 2012.
In Jiangyin, the local government bought all the fishing boats from fishermen before they were dismantled in 2019. That year, the last group of 54 fishermen came ashore.
In 2016, Jiangyin announced it would reduce its approved port shoreline from 23.4 kilometers to 16.85 km, in order to win the fight against water pollution.
Jiangyin started fingerling propagation and releasing them into the Yangtze River in 2002. More than 160 million fingerlings, including puffer and silver carp, have been released, and are expected to enrich aquatic resources and help restore the ecological environment of the whole river.
Surprisingly, for the first time in over 20 years, wild puffer fry were found at the mouth of the river by FFRC on June 5.
China began a 10-year fishing moratorium from the beginning of this year in 332 conservation areas in the Yangtze River basin. This will be expanded to all natural waterways on the country's longest river and its major tributaries from no later than Jan 1, 2021.
"Efforts should also be made to protect rare species and enhance monitoring over aquatic life in the Yangtze River," Xu said.