|Fishermen carry baskets of fish ashore in Qionghai, Hainan province, on May 16. A two-and-half month fishing ban started at noon in most parts of the South China Sea. (China Daily Photo)|
GUANGZHOU, May 16 (Xinhua) -- A two-and-a half month fishing ban began at noon Wednesday in most parts of the South China Sea as part of ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the area's marine resources, according to fishery authorities.
The Hainan provincial marine and fishing department said all 8,994 of the area's locally-registered fishing vessels have been moored.
The annual fishing ban, which has been in place since 1999, will last from May 16 to August 1 this year, covering areas north of the 12th parallel, including Huangyan Island but excluding most of the Nansha Islands.
The fishing ban was adopted to promote the sustainable development of the fishing industry in the South China Sea and protect the fundamental interests of fishermen, said officials from the South China Fishery Administration Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).
Violators will face punishments such as fines, license revocations, confiscations and possible criminal charges, according to a statement issued by the fishery bureau under the MOA.
The provincial fishing authority said fishing vessels with fishing permits for the Nansha Islands are required to install and activate positioning equipment so they will not accidentally enter banned areas.
"Imposing the fishing ban is conducive to protecting fish during their egg-laying season, increasing fish stocks and improving the biological environment," said Tang Jianye, a professor specializing in maritime policy and law at Shanghai Ocean University.
The fishing ban is also applicable to foreign ships.