Transformations of Regulations on Marine Fishing near Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces during the Ming Dynasty

Vol. 35 No. 2   12/2005    


Transformations of Regulations on Marine Fishing near Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces during the Ming Dynasty


Chung-lin Chiu









Key words

Ming Dynasty, maritime interdiction, self-defense marinefishing

boat organization, fishery taxation, marine fishery


       In the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, fishing was prohibited near Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces by intense restrictions from the policy of maritime interdiction. This restraint caused serious hardships for survival; thus, fishermen would go fishing regardless of breaking the law. Until the beginning of the 16th century, the government began to conditionally permit only single-mast fishing boats to fish in the coastal areas. Though this regulation was once terminated due to J apanese pirates' activities in the 1540s, in 1558 the government allowed double-mast or smaller fishing boats to develop a self-defense and fishery taxation system for fishing near the East China Sea. After 1574, the self-defense marine-fishing boat organization became more elaborate; a bottom-to-top systematic control and militarization became heavily emphasized. In 1611, the government even forbade fishing in waters of other provinces. Following gradual relaxation of restrictive policies, the fishing industry in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces managed to prosper and reached its prime towards the end of the Ming Dynasty. Among others, coastal inhabitants enjoyed opportunities to savor seafood brought in by fishing boats equipped with cold storage. However, the policy changed during the Qing Dynasty, and the Qing government began to limit marine fishing again, this time even more forcefully. And, in 1663, borders along the coastline were set up to forbid inhabitants to trespass. Thus, the seafood supply was halted and people had no seafood to eat.



Author: Chung-lin Chiu
Genre: Article