Cormorant fishing is an old, traditional practice dating back as far as 960 AD. Fisherman use the large birds to catch fish in a river, then retrieve the fish from the cormorant. Yangshuo, China.
To control the birds, the fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird's throat. This prevents the birds from swallowing larger fish, which are held in their throat, but the birds can swallow smaller fish. When a cormorant has caught a fish in its throat, the fisherman brings the bird back to the boat and has the bird spit the fish up. Though cormorant fishing once was a successful industry, its primary use today is to serve the tourism industry.
The types of cormorants used differ based on the location. In Gifu, Japan, the Japanese Cormorant (P. capillatus) is used; Chinese fishermen often employ Great Cormorants (P. carbo). Darters (Anhinga), which are very close relatives of cormorants, are also used for this fishing technique on occasion.
In Guilin, China, cormorant birds are famous for fishing on the shallow Lijiang River