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East China Fisheries Revive

Year:1952 Issue:1

Column: Articles


Release Date:1952-01-01

Page: 42,43

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Like every other phase of national production, China's fisheries are undergoing reconstruction and expansion.

When the Kuomintang forces were driven off the east coast and out of the Chousan archipelago 17 months ago, they left the fishing fleets depleted through neglect, extortion and deliberate sabotage.

In 1934, East China had 68,807 sea-going junks, 288 steam vessels and several tens of thousands of fresh water fishing boats. The average annual catch was 700,000 tons of marine products. At the time of liberation, only 31,509 seagoing fishing junks and 125 steam vessels were left. Most of these were damaged and unfit for service. The fishing industry of the Chousan archipelago, in particular, had been almost completely put out of commission.

Restoration Begins

Since the People's Government was founded, it has extended every type of aid to the fishing people. Administrative organs at various levels were set up and fishermen's producer cooperatives were organized on a democratic basis. Government loans to the cooperatives amounted to ¥199 billion People's Currency (US $9,950,000 or £3,553,500) in cash and 837 tons of salt to preserve their catch.

Today, 58,404 fishing boats, 56,080 sea-going junks and 131 motor vessels are engaged in fishing along the East China coast. They are equipped with 337,786 nets of various kinds. The number of fishing boats which put out to sea from January to June last year showed an increase of 71 per cent compared with the corresponding period of 1950. More boats are being launched as dockyards are put back into commission.

One of East China's fishing fleets ready to sail.

One of East China's fishing fleets ready to sail.

The 1951 target was a catch of 500,000 tons. Preliminary figures showed that it was being met and might be considerably surpassed.

The East China Marine Products Conference held last summer set a 1952 target of 700,000 tons - nearly double the catch of 1950. It also drew up plans to strengthen the fishermen's own organizations to enlist their enthusiasm and raise production.

Cooperatives and Markets

In the past, East China's fishermen were feudally exploited by so-called fishing companies and "sales agencies" which collected arbitrary fees and were really little more than "protection rackets." These parasitic and gangster practices are now only a bad memory. Fish markets have been set up in Shanghai, Tsingtao, Chefoo, Ningpo, Wenchow, Chousan and Wusih. More than 300 cooperatives are functioning in different fishing ports to help solve problems of production, marketing and supply, and to supervise the carrying out of reforms in the industry.

The government has set up state-operated Marine Products Corporations in Shanghai and Shantung, and state-operated Marine Products Marketing Corporations in Shantung, north Anhwei and Chekiang to unite and guide private merchants in the development of the fish industry. Large loans have been granted to private merchants to enable them to resume curing fish for storage and shipment elsewhere.

Prices Stabilized; Business Expanded

As a result of the Shanghai Native Products Exhibition and the East China Native Products Conference, contracts for large quantities of marine products have been concluded with North, Northwest and Southwest China, reviving long lost trade relations with these areas. During the season last year, the railway administration lowered freight charges for fish, facilitating transport and the proper fulfilment of these contracts.

As a result of stability in currency and prices, and of steps taken by the government, the price of fish was maintained on an even level instead of fluctuating wildly as before. The surplus catch was put into cold storage or absorbed from the market by processing and curing establishments.

The volume of business in Shanghai last year ran at double the rate of 1950. The daily arrival of fish was often over 1,000 tons, greatly exceeding the customary past record. Yet there were no lulls in the fish market and no stocks were left to rot as "over-supply." Last year, the wholesale price averaged ¥2,000 (about 10 cents U.S. currency or 8 1/2d.) per lb., equalling the domestic price of 1.8 lbs. of rice.

Aid by Government

The People's Government has helped the fishermen who operate individually and constitute 90 per cent of the total. To aid them in increasing production, they have been given cash loans totalling ¥79 billion (US $3,950,000 or £1,415,000) to buy boats, fishing equipment, food, and fish salt. Salt has been made available to them in large quantities at low cost.

The people's armed forces have rid the seacoast of pirates, so that fishermen can put out to sea and go about their work without fear or worry. As a result, the number of fishing vessels active off the Chekiang coast in 1951 doubled, and that off the Shantung coast trebled as compared with 1950.

It is natural that under these circumstances the livelihood of the fishermen has improved tremendously. At the port of Kiaochow in Shantung, many have earned enough to begin keeping mules for transport and fattening pigs for the market.


The East China Military and Administrative Committee on Marine Production has set up a special organ to compile data and do research into the fishing industry.

The people's governments of various maritime municipalities and counties will enforce government laws and decrees regarding the demarcation of prohibited areas and registration of fishing rights. The ownership and utilization of fresh water fishing areas is being defined in accordance with the stipulations in the Agrarian Reform Law.

Whenever necessary and possible, fishing port facilities, lighthouses and observation points are to be rehabilitated for the safety of the fishing fleet.

Fishing grounds are now protected by a ban on the use of explosives and other destructive activities. It is forbidden either to use or to manufacture nets below standard mesh.

Wiping Out the Past

This picture is entirely in contrast to the situation before liberation. The three state-operated marine products enterprises taken over from the Kuomintang were all notorious for their corruption and waste. The Americans too had set up a "Fisheries Rehabilitation Administration" to exploit and enslave our fisheries. American and Kuomintang secret service personnel used to occupy responsible positions in the industry. Functionaries appointed by the Americans were retired navy men posing as experts in fishery.

American trawler captains drew salaries of US $900 per month, plus a bonus of US $0.0275 per pound of fish caught. Sometimes a boat load of fish was sold for barely enough to cover the bonus of the foreign captain, especially when the catch consisted of species that did not bring a good price on the market.

The "Fisheries Rehabilitation Administration" maintained 130 fishing boats, whose monthly overhead expenses amounted to ¥5.6 billion if reckoned in present currency. All the boats together caught 10,000 tons of fish in four years, which sold for only about one ninth of the expenditure claimed. Enormous sums supposedly collected for improvements went into private pockets leaving no trace in the account books. This was what the Americans called a project for relief and rehabilitation, to revive the fisheries by "scientific methods."

There is plenty of fresh fish on sale in all Chinese cities. This stall is in Peking.

There is plenty of fresh fish on sale in all Chinese cities. This stall is in Peking.

The "China Marine Products Company" and the "Yellow Sea Marine Products Company," which were merely paper organizations when taken over, have now been reorganized into the Shanghai Marine Products Company and the Shantung Marine Products Company. By the united efforts of their workers, they were purged of reactionary and corrupt elements and put into proper order.

The People's Government is making big investments in shipbuilding and processing plants for the fisheries. Trawlers are busy at sea. Eight ice and cold storage plants, two dockyards, two net factories, two cod liver oil refineries and one cannery are now serving the fishing grounds of the East China coast.

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