China has a wide range of marine and inland fisheries which support a similarly wide variety of marine and freshwater fish that are native to the country. There are more than 700 freshwater species and thousands of marine species in China. China is the world’s leading exporter of fish. Extensive fishing has resulted in a decline of most of these species in their native habitats leaving some at a risk of extinction. Others are exploited in commercial aquariums and ponds.
Native Fish Species Of China
Balkhash perch (Perca schrenkii)
The Balkhash is a freshwater fish native to China and Kazakhstan. The perch has an elongated body with medium-sized scales. The fish is mainly found in the waters of two lakes: Lake Balkhash and Alakol. The fish is an introduced species to some countries such as Uzbekistan. The populations of the fish have been on a persistent decline making the species rare in its habitat mainly due to the introduction of predatory species such as the Zander.
The white cloud mountain minnow (Tanichthys albonubes)
The fish has been listed as an endangered species by the Chinese government due to its reduced population, pollution, and restricted range. The freshwater fish has silver-green color and red marks on the fins. The species in their natural habitat are thought to be restricted to the Pearl River and Hainan Island. The white cloud minnow is an important species in the aquarium trade.
Silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)
The silver carp has a laterally compressed body with a silvery color that changes to greenish on the top during adulthood. The scales of the fish are small with unusually placed eyes. The mouth of the fish faces upwards while its eyes face downwards and are placed in the middle of the body. The fish is distributed in parts of the Pacific drainage in China, Pearl River, Amur River and some parts of Vietnam. Silver carps feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton and can live up to 20 years.
Japanese seerfish (Scomberomorus niphonius)
The fish is native to the north-western Pacific coasts of China, Korea, Japan, and Russia in the subtropical and temperate waters. Due to heavy fishing in their native ranges, the populations of the fish have declined rapidly. In China, the species is listed as data deficient due to lack of information about the population of the species in China’s fisheries. The fish migrates in the spring during the spawning period as well as in September to November during the feeding season. The species has an estimated lifespan of six years.
Conservation efforts for fish in China
Although there are laws that regulate fishing in particular fisheries, much needs to be done regarding research to identify the distribution, population sizes, threats, and conservation measures appropriate for China’s fish species as most of these are classified as data deficient. Enforcement of existing laws is also necessary to the achievement of conservation goals. Other native species of fish in China include the white Amur bream, elongate bitteling, Chinese rice fish, Kunming nose, the eastern viviparous blenny and the Amur goby.