Implementation in China
Our planet is a very big place, and for a huge percent of its inhabitants fish is a very important part of their lives and livelihood. One place in particular where this holds true is China. It would be irresponsible to ignore the effect that China has on the world fishing situation, with a population of about 1.3 billion people (CIA World Factbook, 2007).
China is the largest producer in the world of fish. In 2004 it captured 16.9 million tonnes of fish and raised 30.6 million tonnes of fish through aquaculture. This production resulted in a domestic food supply of 28.4 kg per capita as well as excess for exports and other uses besides food (FAO, 2007). However, numbers from China are sometimes unreliable, often erring on the high side, so we must view these numbers as questionable and rough.
Aquaculture and Capture Fisheries
Aquaculture is expanding more quickly than any other food industry. The FAO reports that since 1970, aquaculture has grown 8.8% per year, while capture fishing has only increased by 1.2 % (2007). Developing countries actually account for 91.4% of aquaculture production, and China is supposedly the producer of 70% of aquacultured fish worldwide. In China, inland water aquaculture has grown 10.8% in the same period, and marine aquaculture grew 10.7%. Regarding capture fisheries, China has about 8.5 million fishermen, 13 million total fishermen and fish farmers (31% of world's total). It can come as no surprise that since 2002, China has been the world's top exporter of fish. In 2004 China's fish export reached a value of $6.6 billion, which is an 11% increase since 1994. Some of China's exportation is accounted for by the fact that much of it's industry involves transforming unprocessed raw goods into final products to be be re-exported, largely because of its low labor costs. China has also increased its percentage of imports. The value of these imports rose from $0.2 billion in 1990 to $3.1 billion in 2004. This recent increase was caused primarily by China's joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 requiring it to lower it's average tariff from 15.3% in 2001 to 10.4% in 2004 (FAO, 2007).
Fisheries Sector Growth
In the past three decades, global employment in aquaculture and fisheries has grown faster than employment in traditional agriculture, causing the number of people involved in this industry to grow at a faster rate than the population of the planet. It is still a very small portion of the overall food production sector; in 1990 2.3% percent of global agriculture was fishing and aquaculture, a percentage that has now swelled to 3.1%. This is a 35% growth, which occurs mostly in Asia where most fishermen and aquaculture are (FAO, 2007).
Since the 1960s, global yearly fish consumption has increased from 9.0 kg per capita to 16.5 kg per capita in 2003, and the main reason for this increase is China's huge increase in fish production. Since 1994 China's share of worldwide fish production has increased from 21% to 34%, and in 2003 its per capita consumption was around 25.8kg. If China is ignored, global per capita fish supply has remained steady since the 1980s at about 14.2 kg (FAO, 2007).
The popularity of fish in recent years has several factors, including but not limited to the developed world following trends that portray fish as much healthier than other protein sources, and the emergence of diseases such as avian flu and mad cow, resulting in people being less enthusiastic about poultry and beef, and therefore turning to fish as an alternatives (FAO, 2007).
Fish Market and Trade
About 90% of all fish and fish products are traded in some processed form. Only ten percent is sold in a live, fresh, or frozen state (47). Although in recent years, due to improvements in refrigeration and transportation technology, live fish are a growing percentage of the market. This portion of the market includes ornamental fish as well as fish intended for consumption. Some Asian markets (including communities composed mainly of immigrant communities), like China's, prefer their fish intended for consumption live (FAO, 2007).
In recent years China has increased it's supply of shrimp to Europe, mainly because the EU reduced its importation restrictions. In fact, China has become the top supplier of shrimp to Spain and is an increasingly major supplier of shrimp to other European nations (FAO, 2007).
The groundfish market (this includes such fish as cod, hake, and pollack) has shown definite price increases in recent years, due to increased demand in some Asian nations and lower catch rates in some South American countries, reducing overall supply. The supply problem was lessened by China's increasing contribution to groundfish supply (FAO, 2007).
With these facts in mind, it is apparent that fish consumption and production in China is a considerable chunk of the world's consumption and production, and is therefore a major part of the global problem. Even if such widescale production is warranted by the needs of the Chinese population, it is undeniable that sooner or later the live marine resources around that China is now exploiting will become depleted, if they are not already.
Steps Already Being Taken
China has already recognized this fact, and has begun to try to reverse some of its growth. In 2002, China implemented a five-year plan to decommission and destroy 30,000 fishing vessels (7% of total commercial fleet). The program received $33 million dollars worth of funding and participation was voluntary. Most of the boats that were scrapped were small and designed to stay close to shore. Another portion of the regulation prohibits the construction of a new boat for any purpose other than to replace a craft with a current license. 5,000 boats and licenses were reportedly discontinued in year one of the program, although the amount of commercial vessels in operation in 2003 and 2004 (as reported to the FAO by China) increased (FAO, 2007).
Also, capture fishing has declined by 13% since 2001 due to fleet reduction programs designed to curb overfishing. Part of these fleet reduction policies include discontinuing the use of old vessels and training out-of-work fishermen in aquaculture. Still, there are a larger number of fishermen than fish farmers: 8.5 million to 4.5 million, respectively (FAO, 2007).
Evidently, China must do much more of this type of regulation and management in order to make the impact on their fishing industry that is necessary to save the oceans. Also, steps must be taken to make sure that the booming aquaculture industry operates in an environmentally friendly manner, and that any growth in aquaculture includes provisions for environmentally friendly operation. Eventually, overall production of fish must decrease.
Implementation of Mission: 2011
The first and most important step that must be accomplished if China's fisheries are to become sustainable is to convince China to ratify our treaty. China's history in matters of international cooperation is inconclusive, but with regard to the fisheries problem there is considerable evidence that the nation considers the health of the oceans to be a problem that is worth some concern. China has shown this concern not only by the measures it has already implemented with regard to decommissioning boats, but by signing and ratifying the Law of the Sea treaty that set up many important initial guidelines for fisheries management. We recognize that international cooperation is based on negotiation and compromise. China's previous cooperation lends credence to the belief that with proper persuasion and presentation, a satisfactory agreement can be reached that will still advance the ecological goals of our solution. This was the reason that we decided to focus our solution on the health of the fish and their habitat-fish can not look out for themselves, while humans can. Any solution negotiated and agreed upon by people will by nature not be as beneficial to any creature as much as it is to people. One could say that our solution as factored in a certain amount of room for alteration without compromising our core goals.
Taxation, as an integral part of our long-term solution, will be implemented in all countries who ratify the treaty, China included if it ratifies. Therefore, the team of biologists and economists who determine the tax will analyze the populations in which Chinese fishermen generally fish in order to model first the quantity of the maximum sustainable catch level and then the tax necessary to maintain this.
The implementation of this portion of our plan in China will be consistent with our general plan. This includes setting a time frame in which fishermen begin shifting to more environmentally sound practices and then progresses to phasing out all devastating technology such as trawlers and replacing them with more advanced versions that minimize ecological damage. Fish tracking and data collection technologies will also be utilized to improve the quality of information that scientists are able to gather about the status of each fish population, information that will be applied to devising the most effective tax possible. Funding for these transformations will come from tax revenue supplied by ratification of the treaty.
As elaborated above, China has a very large and productive aquaculture industry. In order for this industry to remain productive however, it must be brought up to an environmental standard at which both the fish it produces and the people it feeds will be healthy. Our aquaculture plans can be applied to China's aquaculture to help it reach an acceptable level. One innovation proposed by Mission:2011 is that of mobile fish cages, which promote the health of captive fish by allowing them to live in way that provides more of the benefits of the ocean. Also, selection of fish to reduce the need for antibiotics and the use of a variety of aquaculture methods will increase the overall health of fish produced in China's capture fisheries.
This element is just as important in China as in anywhere else in the world. There are many ways in which the message that fisheries are in danger can be disseminated, including but not limited to media, international conventions and competitions, required curricula, or any of the other education possibilities presented in the education portion of this report.