North China's last fishing tribe rejuvenated amid inheritance and protection

North China's last fishing tribe rejuvenated amid inheritance and protection

PR Newswire

SONGYUAN, China, Dec. 31, 2018

SONGYUAN, China, Dec. 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --The 17th Chagan Lake fishing cultural tourism festival opened on Dec. 28, once again showcasing the unique folk culture of the last fishing tribe in north China to tourists from China and abroad. Demonstration of ancient traditional fishing method featuring under-the-ice net casting and horse winch marked the beginning of the golden season for winter fishing.

Chagan Lake, one of China's top 10 freshwater lakes, is in Songyuan City, northwest of Jilin Province. For thousands of years, local residents have kept the primitive way of winter fishing. Thanks to the protection and development of local government, winter fishing has preserved the original process, including lake worship, awakening of fishing net, fishing under the ice and so on, which has become a rare scene in modern society.

The longest net used for winter fishing in Chagan Lake can be over 1,000 meters, which requires nearly 100 holes to be drilled on the frozen lake. Long wooden poles attached with iron hooks are used to cast the net underneath the ice. A single-net harvest once exceeded 600,000 kilograms, a Guinness world record.

The fishing culture of Chagan Lake is unique in terms of society, location and humanities compared with other parts of the world. With its primitive natural environment, production mode and state of living, the fishing culture, which still lives with vitality, is the one and only north of 45 degrees north latitude. It was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2008. The area has since been protected by the provincial government. "Bouncing fish on ice lake" has become one of the eight views of Jilin. The local government is also promoting the fishing culture of Chagan Lake to be inscribed on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.

Chagan Lake produces about 1.5 million kilograms of fish every winter. The integrative development of ecology, culture and tourism has brought over 200 million yuan (29 million U.S. dollars) of gross value of social products to the fishing village. Despite the growing demand, the city government has ordered that no extra amount of fishing is added every winter to make sure that ecological development always comes first.

Green hills and clear waters, ice and snow are all precious resources. Ecological protection and tourism can complement each other. The local government has introduced regulations to promote a win-win development for ecology and economy.

The fishing cultural tourism festival, which will last till Feb. 28, 2019, is co-held by the provincial culture and tourism department and Songyuan city government. Songyuan, known for its investment potential among multinationals, and tourist industry in China, is boosting the development of ice and snow industry in Jilin based on its abundant ice and snow resources as well as popular fishing tradition.

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