• A barge sails on the South China Sea on Dec. 24, 2007, in Yangjiang of Guangdong Province, China.

A barge sails on the South China Sea on Dec. 24, 2007, in Yangjiang of Guangdong Province, China. (Photo : Getty Images)

Residents of Beijing can soon savor more than 300 types of seafood from the South China Sea after fishermen from the South China Sea agreed to sell their catch in the capital.

Hundreds of fishermen from islands near the South China Sea recently signed contracts to sell seafood with Beijing restaurant Nansha Yugang. The seafood is transported through cold-chain vehicles from Tanmen port in Qionghai, South China's Hainan Province.

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Local fishermen usually sell seafood such as fish, shrimp and crab to Hainan markets, where private would purchase the products, said Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea.

Chen added that seafood from the South China Sea tastes differently from those caught in the East China Sea.

The South China Sea encompasses 1.4 million square miles and is richer in biodiversity than nearly any other marine ecosystem. It is one of the world's most important fisheries, employing more than 3.7 million people and generating billions of dollars every year. The seafood caught here provides food and jobs for millions in the 10 countries and territories that surround it.

China accounted for 35 percent of the world's seafood consumption in 2015.

The fishing industry in China was valued at $289 billion in 2013. Fish is also China's top agricultural export. In 2013, there were close to 10,000 fish processing companies in China, providing 400,000 jobs.

Fish workers mainly come from predominately in Liaoning, Fujian and Shandong. Ther seafood industries in China creates nearly 14.5 million jobs.

However, due to overfishing dwindling stocks now threaten both the food security and economic growth of the rapidly developing nations that draw on them.

According to Chinese state media, overfishing and pollution have so depleted China's fishery resources that there are no seafood to be found in some fishing grounds such as the East China Sea.

Fish stock in the South China Sea has fallen by as much as 95 percent from 1950s levels.