2017 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Fishery Tax System in Poyang Lake during the Ming Dynasty: A Study Based on the Fishery Tax Register (Yuke ce) of the Jiajing Period

Shigu Liu

Department of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In the Song dynasty, the state did not tax natural lakes or fishermen, but taxed the merchants who sold fish and other water products. In the Yuan dynasty, the government began to tax the rivers, lakes, and fishermen, but it still lacked specialized agencies to manage these taxes, merely regarding them as supplementary taxes. In the early Ming dynasty, the state started to intervene in the management of lakes through the establishment of River Moorings Stations (Hepo suo) and sent local officials to survey the lakes and register the fishermen into the official Fishery Tax Registry (Yuke ce). Basically, there were two kinds of fishery taxes during the Ming:. the tax on lakes and the tax on fishing nets. The Fishery Tax Register was similar to the Yellow-Book System in its procedures and format. The Yellow-Book concerned population and property, but the fishery tax book focused on tax amounts. By the middle of the Ming period, the fishery tax system was gradually relaxed. Due to the reduction of fishery taxes, many River Moorings Stations were abolished by the emperor or local officials. The central government failed to increase the fishery tax from the Ming to the Qing dynasty. In addition, due to the instability of natural resources and the heavy tax burden, many fishermen tried to escape from the control of the state in order to evade or reduce their taxes. Thus some officials suggested that the fishery tax should ascertain a fixed sum in order to maintain the state’s revenues.


Keywords: Ming dynasty, Poyang Lake, Fishery Tax Register, fishermen’s families, fishery tax system