China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of fish—producing 40 percent and consuming 38 percent of the world’s fish. This has had a dire effect on the South China Sea, their main fishing ground, where fish numbers have plummeted to just 5 to 30 percent of levels in the 1950s.
Fisheries are notoriously difficult to regulate, but China has been trying to do so for many years. Since 1995, they have banned fishing for two to three months during the summer to give fish populations a chance to recover. In 2017, they imposed the strictest ban yet—increasing the length of closure to four and a half months in some places.
There are however, concerns surrounding the increase of fishing in distant waters such as in Africa, and overfishing in national waters post-closure, to compensate for losses experienced during the summer fishing ban.
But China continues to make substantial commitments to fisheries management. In 2016 they announced a tough plan to reduce the total yearly catch of coastal fisheries from over 13 million tonnes to under 10 million tonnes in line with sustainability calculations.