Fishermen and merchants strike deals at a port in Qionghai, Hainan province, on Thursday, as the season's first boats return with fresh fish. (MENG ZHONGDE/FOR CHINA DAILY)
At 12 pm on Wednesday, a loud whistle sounded to mark the start of fishing season and boats docked at Sanya's Yazhou Central Fishing Port headed for the South China Sea.
An estimated 730 fishing boats and 3,200 fishermen are expected to depart from Yazhou Central, the largest fishing port in South China's Hainan province, this fishing season, according to authorities.
"A journey out to sea will take about a week. I hope it's all smooth sailing and our fishing boats bring back a big catch of fish," said fisherman Luo Shandong.
The start of the fishing season is part of the three-day China (South China Sea) Sanya Fishing Festival, which kicked off on Wednesday. Aiming to highlight agricultural and fishing culture, the events include a fishing industry exhibition, a recreational fishing development forum, a food market and popular sports in fishing villages such as volleyball.
"It's great to witness the sailing ceremony, participate in a variety of activities and learn about marine culture," said He Yeyuan, a tourist attending the festival. "I've seen cultural and creative products, various seafoods and eaten many kinds of snacks."
The Yazhou Central Fishing Port Seafood Trading Center, the main venue of the festival, also held its opening ceremony on Wednesday. The fish and seafood unloaded at the port are transported across China.
The center is seeking to become a commercial complex that integrates fishing, tourism, seafood trading, and marine culture and exhibitions. It also hopes to give tourists more choices of things to do by connecting with nearby attractions, such as Nanshan Temple and Daxiao Dongtian scenic park.
"By improving facilities in the port area, we hope to enrich fishing activities, strengthen the understanding of marine culture and accelerate the development of fishing and tourism," said Wang Daoyun, deputy head of Yazhou district.
Hainan is committed to upgrading the development of its fishing industry, and Sanya is constructing a national coastal fishing port pilot economic zone, said Zheng Yi, from the Hainan Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
"We will take this opportunity to propel the province's fishing port and fishing industry economy to new heights, generating more employment opportunities and increasing people's income," he said.
Zhang Changfeng, Sanya's vice-mayor, said the city possesses abundant marine resources and a pristine marine environment. "With the marine research advantages of the Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City, we will make great efforts to develop the fishing port pilot economic zone, and drive the fishing industry toward high-quality growth," he said.
This year marks the 25th year of the summer fishing ban in the South China Sea, a measure that aims to protect the environment, conserve natural resources and ensure the fishing industry's sustainability.
This year's summer fishing ban went from May 1 to Aug 15. During the moratorium, fishermen repair and maintain their vessels. The ban affected a total of 14,165 fishing vessels and 38,681 fishermen across Hainan province, China News Service reported.