catch per unit effort
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Quinghai Hu is a large, high-altitude, saline lake in north-western China, and supports a fishery based on an endemic species of naked carp (‘snow trout’). The fish take seven years to attain maturity and a marketable weight of 300 g, and have a lifespan of 14–21 years under the present fishery regime. They seasonally migrate from the lake to spawn over the gravel beds of inflowing rivers, but these areas have been reduced by weirs and irrigation diversions and recruitment may have declined. The population may have been affected also by a 1.85-m fall in the lake level over the past 30 years, and by associated changes in salinity. The fishery was opened to large-scale exploitation in 1958. Yields declined sharply (max. 28,523 tonnes, 1960) as the larger, older fish were removed, and then more slowly (min. 2523 tonnes, 1983). Since 1987 the fish factory has been limited to an annual quota of 1200 tonnes, taken by a fleet of four pair trawlers. Another 800 tonnes are taken by licensed fishermen, mainly using gill nets, and perhaps 1000 tonnes are taken illegally. The estimated total catch in 1992 was 3000 tonnes. New trawlers introduced in 1989–90 substantially increased the factory's catch per unit effort, and in 1990 the quota was virtually filled in one month in a zone within 20 km of the factory. Although this could suggest that the stocks will be conserved if the quota is retained, at least half of the catch in 1989–92 consisted of immature individuals. Trawling operations recently were suspended following a further decline in the catch after 1992. While the new trawlers are capable of a major increase in effort, neither the changing environment, the fish stocks or the present markets favour intensified pressure. Gillnets may provide better control over the minimum size limit and may cause less damage than trawling. Other options to improve the viability and profitability of the fishery include improvements in handling, processing and marketing. Failure to develop the fishery may encourage attempts to introduce exotic fish, at some risk to survival of the local species.
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