News have surfaced from within China that Hainan has now put a widespread ban on the sale of giant clam shells, particularly those found in Tanmen Village. Articles report that as of 1 January 2017, Hainan Island began the ban of sale, purchase, and use of corals, giant clams and other handicraft. (See Chinese article here)

In 2013, the local government (presumably Hainan) strongly supported the trade of giant clam shells, making it a pillar industry in Tanmen Village and provided work for thousands living in the village. However, in 2015, within a short span of 2 years, the support of the industry has turned to prohibition, and finally a total ban. (Translated materials)

A factory in Tanmen with mounts of fossilised giant clam shells.

On 30 November 2016, the Hainan Provincial Counsel passed the bill of “Hainan’s Coral and Giant Clam Protection Regulations”, which states the ban beginning 1 January 2017. Since the ban, the shops have reportedly removed the items and stopped selling giant clam shell products, whilst others have ‘closed down’. It is estimated that the ban will cause the loss of livelihoods of almost 10,000 people. (Translated materials)

A typical processing shed.

While there is no use crying over the ‘spilled milk’, the total ban demonstrates the Chinese authorities in Hainan Island’s commitment to natural resources protection. This gives us confidence that we can all work together towards the common goal of better marine resource management. More importantly, this ban would hopefully yield a good start towards the management of resources in the South China Sea – the pivot point amidst the other factors.

Giant clams are highly sought-after in China, mainly because of its supposed healing powers and traditional beliefs.

Further reading:

Bloomberg Business Week


Business World Online

Global Times China

National Geographic News