Maintaining Economic Value of Ecosystem Services Whilst Reducing Environmental Cost: A Way to Achieve Freshwater Restoration in China

Abstract : Freshwater fisheries are central to food security in China and this remains one of the most important priorities for the growing human population. Thus, combining ecosystem restoration with economics is pivotal in setting successful conservation in China. Here, we have developed a practical management model that combines fishery improvement with conservation. For six years, a ban on fertilizer and a reduction of planktivorous fish stocking along with the introduction of both mandarin fish Siniperca chuatsi and Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis was apparent in Wuhu Lake, a highly eutrophic lake located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Annual fish yield decreased slightly after the change in management, whereas fisheries income increased 2.6 times. Mandarin fish and Chinese mitten crab accounted for only 16% of total fisheries production but for 48% of total fisheries income. During this six year period, water clarity increased significantly from 61 cm to 111 cm. Total nitrogen, total phosphorus and chlorophyll decreased significantly from 1.14 to 0.84 mg/L, 0.077 to 0.045 mg/L, and 21.45 to 11.59 μg/L respectively, and macrophyte coverage increased by about 30%. Our results showed that the ecological status of shallow lakes could be rapidly reversed from eutrophic to oligotrophic using simple biomanipulation, whilst maintaining fisheries economic value. It also offers a better approach to shallow fisheries lake management in Asia where traditionally the stocking of Chinese carp and use of fertilizers is still popular.
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Mingli Lin, Zhongjie Li, Jiashou Liu, Rodolphe E. Gozlan, Sovan Lek, et al.. Maintaining Economic Value of Ecosystem Services Whilst Reducing Environmental Cost: A Way to Achieve Freshwater Restoration in China. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2015, 10 (3), pp.e0120298. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0120298⟩. ⟨hal-01235967⟩

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