Monday, 12 August 2013

Tiny Chinese Island Sets Example for Sustainable Fishing (Op-Ed)

Nick Conger is former editor of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) blog, On Balance. This article was adapted from his post An Island of Hope in China. Conger contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Nestled in the Yellow Sea, just off the Northeast coast of China, lies a tiny patch of land called Zhangzi Island.

As I looked out the window of a ferry boat, the smog from Dalian receded in the background, and for the first time in three days, I saw blue sky. The island appeared in the distance, peppered with wind turbines and solar panels.

I was with a group of WWF-China staff, representatives from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and China Sustainable Retail Roundtable, eager to see sustainable seafood production firsthand. Before docking, we watched as trawlers dropped nets more than 130 feet (40 meters) deep, skimming the sea floor, swiping up sea scallops. Two deep seadivers jumped in the freezing water and quickly returned with a small sample for our tasting pleasure.

Zhangzi Island thrives on the seafood industry — dominated by the Zhangzidao Group, which manages 70,000 hectares of the Yellow Sea. The company is a full-service operation, covering hatching, farming, processing and trading of shellfish. As the largest seafood company listed on Shenzhen Stock Exchange, it's so embedded into the island community that the 15,000 residents are shareholders: 30 percent of their collective income comes from seafood production.

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