Five held after Chinese authorities spot something fishy in ‘electrofishing’ video

Three men and two women detained after footage that appears to show illegal technique being used circulates online

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 October, 2017, 3:24pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 October, 2017, 4:30pm

Five people in southwest China have been arrested after a video showing what appeared to be the controversial practice of electrofishing was posted online.

Electrofishing involves sending an electric current into the water, which would temporarily stun and impair any fish swimming within range.

The incident took place in Sichuan province’s Hanyuan Lake, which covers 84 square kilometres, according to a report from Chengdu Commercial Daily on Sunday.

In the video, a man who was standing at the front of a fishing vessel was seen lowering a net into the water, which was then used to scoop up waves of fish that were seen floating to the surface. The boat was also carrying a mysterious bright yellow box with wires attached to the handle of the net.

None of the people in the boat was seen wearing safety gear apart from rubber boots.

They then throw their catch into the middle section of the boat, which was already filled with fish.

The newspaper reported that three men and two women were arrested following the incident on Friday, and their catch included sharpbelly, carp and scorpion fish.

The video generated a lively debate on the Weibo social network, with one user saying: “I know that they can sell one kilogramme of fish at 40 yuan (US$6) to neighbouring restaurants in that area, and a boat like this could catch up to one tonne of fish per day, it’s quite a lot.”

Another user on China’s biggest microblogging platform, whose comment was liked over a hundred times, said it is “very cruel and also dangerous for the catchers” to electrify fish this way.

However other comments said the case was “nothing special” and it was an efficient method of catching fish.

Myanmar’s friendly Irrawaddy dolphins, on brink of extinction, are being electrocuted by rogue fishermen

Although the Chinese law has made electrofishing illegal, there has been an ongoing debate in the fishing industry worldwide on whether it is actually more damaging for the environment than traditional beam trawling methods.

There have been attempts to allow commercial fishing crews to use the technique in some parts of the world.

In the North Sea, for example, the devolved Scottish Government has been given an exemption from a European Union ban to allow clam fishermen to use electrofishing in a trial scheme.