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March 1, 2013

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Unlawful fishing targeted in crackdown

UNLICENSED fishers using banned tools such as electrified nets that damage the Yangtze River ecosystem are facing harsher punishment under criminal laws as the city yesterday announced a campaign against illegal fishing.

Despite yearly crackdowns by local fishery departments, illegal fishing is still thriving on the Yangtze and other waters of Shanghai where banned and dangerous tools are used to catch fish, said officials.

In some recent cases, fishers were found using electrified fishing nets, which are banned by Chinese law. They use high voltage and amperage that can instantly kill an adult, said an official surnamed Liang.

"We have received reports from local fishing enthusiasts who complained that they were shocked to find fewer and fewer fish in certain areas after electric nets were used," said Liang.

Such fishing nets may shock and kill almost all the aquatic life in a certain area, seriously threatening the ecosystem and posing danger to other people, Liang said. Three people were reported to have been killed when electrified fishing nets were used in 2010, Liang said.

Other unlicensed fishers have been found using other banned nets such as those with mesh so tight small fry are caught. Such nets endanger rare species.

Officials said they have found over 1,500 unlicensed fishing boats near Chongming Island, while the city only has 219 licensed fishing boats.

Fishers using banned nets formerly were fined from 2,000 yuan (US$321) to 20,000 yuan. Now, they may face fines, detention and jail under the criminal law, the officials said.


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