Central China's Hubei Province handed out criminal penalties to 202 individuals for illegal fishing and related activities in 2017, a record high for the province, local authorities said.
The punishments include supervision, detention and fixed-term imprisonment, according to a provincial meeting on fisheries on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, more than 340 fishermen were given administrative punishments such as disciplinary warnings and fines.
Officers from Hubei's fishery agencies and public security departments have seized over 450 illegal fishing boats and more than 3,700 pieces of fishing equipment in various operations against illegal fishing last year.
The stricter punishment aims to better protect the wildlife and restore the environment of Yangtze River, the longest river in China.
The wildlife population in the river has declined in recent years due to impact of human activity. The annual fish catch has dropped to less than 100,000 tonnes from more than 400,000 tonnes some 60 years ago.
"Hubei will permanently ban fishing in 83 aquatic nature reserves in the Yangtze basin this year," Zhang Hanzhong, deputy director of the local bureau of aquatic resources, said at the meeting.
The ban has already been implemented at several aquatic nature reserves since Jan. 1, and the others will be added by the end of 2018.
The annual fishing ban on China's rivers from March 1 to June 30 began Thursday. The ban covers the main streams, tributaries, and lakes along the Yangtze, Huaihe, Minjiang, and Pearl rivers.