Fishing limits rewarded with big hauls

As dawn broke, Xu Qingshui set off in his boat through thick reeds to the large open expanses of Bosten Lake expecting another bumper day's fishing.

After repeatedly casting his net, the boat was soon loaded with a variety of big, fleshy carp flopping around in the cabin. "The daily catch can reach 600 kilograms," said Xu, an experienced fisherman of the lake in Bohu county.

Late summer and autumn are the seasons that produce the biggest fish hauls on Bosten Lake in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The country's largest inland freshwater lake, it is also the biggest fishery base in Xinjiang.

With an area of 1,646 square kilometers, Bosten Lake is home to over 30 fish breeds and boasts an annual output of some 4,000 metric tons.

Xu has been fishing the lake for over a decade, and he attributes the large hauls to not overfishing the resource.

The local government has also stepped up restoration efforts to improve water quality in the lake by reducing and treating pollution. "The water is getting cleaner, and that's fundamental to sustainable fishing," said Xu, whose given name means "clean water" in Chinese.

Strict seasonal fishing bans are imposed from March to late June to avoid disrupting fish spawning and hatching.

To avoid resource depletion, the county caps the autumn harvest at about 1,100 tons. Xu said fish that do not meet minimum weight requirements are thrown back in the water.

The fishing business earns Xu about 80,000 yuan ($11,700) a year, and provides livelihoods for over 60,000 people.

"Nature will not fail you as long as you take care of it," Xu said.