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Fishing fleet sets sail for Nansha Islands

By Huang Yiming and Wang Qian  (China Daily)

08:40, May 07, 2013

A fishing fleet prepares to set sail for Nansha Islands from Danzhou, Hainan province. The operation will last about 40 days. Huang Yiming / China Daily

40-day operation involving 30 vessles is second of its kind

A fleet including 30 fishing vessels - each weighing more than 100 metric tons - set sail from Hainan province for the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on Monday.

The 40-day operation is the second of its kind organized by local fishery associations after Sansha city was established in June last year.

Li Nianyou, deputy director of the Hainan provincial department of ocean and fisheries, said the department will make every effort to guarantee the fleet's safety.

After leaving from Danzhou in Hainan, the fleet will arrive at the first fishing ground after four days' sailing, according to the department, which did not disclose details of the locations.

Chen Rishen, general manager of Hainan Jianghai Industries Co Ltd, one of the organizers of the operation, said the fleet has a 4,000-ton supply ship and a 1,500-ton transport ship to supply the fishing vessels, which will effectively extend the fishing period.

The supply ship, about 108 meters long, 15.2 meters wide and 13.8 meters high, will provide supplies including oil, water, food and maintenance services, Chen said.

Normally, the fishing season in Sansha runs from March to July when there are mild winds and waves, said Huang Wenhui, director of the fishing bureau under the Hainan provincial department of ocean and fisheries.

But due to the long distances involved, there are only about 600 vessels fishing regularly in waters off the Nansha Islands, which is far from sufficient, Huang said, adding that an organized fishing fleet is a good way to explore fishery resources in Nansha.

Every year, fishermen in Hainan organize a month-long fishing operation on their own, but not on this scale.

Huang Zhengye, a 46-year-old fisherman from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region who joined the fleet, is optimistic about a good fishing harvest.

Experts estimate there are 3.5 million tons of fish in Nansha waters, with less than 3 percent explored.

In June last year, China set up its youngest city, Sansha, on the Yongxing Islands, administering the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and surrounding waters in the South China Sea.

Hainan province organized the first joint oceangoing fishing operation involving 30 boats in the South China Sea on July 12.

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