Dazhou Island: From inshore to offshore fishing
News source:hiHainan / By Cai Rong / 10 14,2020 10:07:00 / others

A fisherman sells crabs caught near Dazhou Island. (He Lifan)

As a child, Liu Wensun used to sit on the Xintan Bay beach, watching fish jump out of the water one after another.

Liu became a celebrity in Xintan Village during the 1980s after catching a giant fish weighing more than 1,000 kilograms. As a skilled seaman, in 2000, Liu raked in 200,000 yuan, which was double the average income for most local fishermen.

Fishing around Dazhou Island for Xintan villagers dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Located in an area of upwelling, Dazhou waters are rich in marine life such as beltfish, sea urchins and conches.

By the time Liu decided to retire in 2015, however, much had changed. “In the old days, I could easily catch more than 500 kilos on a single trip. But since 2000, I barely managed 100 kilos.” Centuries of inshore fishing, close to the coast, had taken a toll on the island.

In 2015, Wanning decided to ban all activity on and around Dazhou Island, designated as a natural reserve. And slowly, the ecosystems started to recover, luring back marine life.

Fishermen explore new offshore fishing methods. (He Lifan)

Officials of Wanning also compensated local fishermen, urging them to change their catch areas from inshore to offshore. Fishing cooperatives were founded and support was given to help local fishermen upgrade their tools, boats and ships.

“We tapped experienced offshore fishermen from Lingao to provide technical guidance,” said Cui Min, the vice director of Administrative Office of the Dazhou Island National Ocean Ecology Nature Reserve.

Liu Yunwu, a 71-year-old native of Xintan Village, pointed out that the nearest Wuchang Port was small and only a few vessels could dock there. “If there was a bigger, modern port, it might be easier for us to change our trade," Liu said.

To help the locals, Hainan Province is planning to build a first-class fishing port in Wanning that can handle up to 100,000 tons per year.

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