By Yudhi Sutrisna, HSBC Water Programe Award Winner, Indonesia
China is the world leader in freshwater aquaculture production, the sector is not only important for the country's economy, employment and food security, but also has a big impact on the environment.
Some of the sector's practices have been identified as contributing to pollution in the Yangtze River and may, therefore, threaten the Yangtze basin's ecology.
WWF China and HSBC under HSBC Water Programme, expanded the environmental works related to this sector to cover different water bodies including paddy fields, reservoirs and ponds. The works also put focus on sustainable aquaculture Best Management Practice (BMP) standards, pilot projects, partnership with local fisheries bureau & aquaculture companies, training and work with retailers. The overall aim is to make freshwater aquaculture more sustainable, improving the health of the river system as well as fish farmers' livelihoods.
Lake Hong © Yudhi Sutrisna
Today, we had a chance to visit one of the pilot projects that demonstrates the application of BMP standards which is located in Honghu City, Hubei Province. Hongxianxi cooperative, where the traditional feeding method was revived by farmers. In Hongxianxi, grass carp are reared in ponds and are given a mix of grass and specially prepared natural fish feed. Grass is grown on the side of the ponds and on the side of the island that was created in the middle of the pond. Water levels are controlled to allow feeding and growth of the grass.
As explained by Mr Xiao from Hongxianxi during our visit, this ecological model is not only producing healthier fish but also better livelihood for the fishermen.
After lunch, we were off again, driving to Lake Hong Nature Reserve. As the largest freshwater lake in Hubei Province, the lake covered area of 348 km2. It had been disconnected from the Yangtze river due to the creation of embankments but, thanks to WWF's efforts, it has now been reconnected.
Back in 2003, HSBC, WWF, government and other parties took a joint effort to tackle serious threats to this lake, including issues of fishing nets that occupied the lake, water quality, diminished numbers of indigenous fish and water birds, resources of aquatic plants.
By visiting one of the families who live on a boat, we do understand the benefit of this programme for local people and their environment.
The revitalisation of the lake is just the beginning and there is still long way to go.
For my self, this is truly a rewarding experience, remind me to take part and actively involve in protecting the nature.