The Tuo’s Last Fish Farmers Pack Up Their Cages

ZIYANG, Southwest China — It would take another two months for Liu Zhongming’s fish to fully mature, but he couldn’t wait until summer to sell his stock at the best price: A government ban on fish farming in the local river had sent Liu and the other fishermen scrambling.
Two notices issued in late March and early April, respectively, required fishermen on the Tuo, a tributary of the Yangtze River in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, to dismantle their farms — the floating cages in which they cultivate fish — by the end of April.
Liu, 49, was worried about his 75,000 kilograms of fish, not only because they were too small to be sold, but also because some were sick.
Told by the government to dismantle all their fish cages, fishermen on the Tuo River are looking for new ways to make a living.
By Xu Hui and Tang Xiaolan/Sixth Tone The two notices, issued by the government of Yanjiang District of Ziyang City, marked the end of the Tuo River’s fish-farming business, which had been thriving since the 1990s.
But the 223 fishing families there have finally been told to pack up and move.
The family bought fry every winter, fed them for a few months, and sold them the next summer.
Liu said he still suffered a total loss of 500,000 yuan, which he called “not huge.” Hua Mingliang, another fisherman who started farming fish just last year, complained about the government’s timing in announcing the ban.
Apart from one or two fishermen still dealing with sick fish, Liu said, all other cages had been cleared off the water.
For fish farmers like Liu, the future is uncertain, even though the government has promised its support.

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