A family planning to eat a fresh fish that they bought in a local market almost missed out on the meal after their little boy stole it when he realized his grandmother was going to kill it.

The incident was filmed in Handan in the northern Chinese province of Hebei on July 19.

According to the boy’s father, identified only by his surname Cheng, he bought the live fish from the wet market that morning.

Wet markets are popular in China and Southeast Asia where they sell fresh meat and fish, with many of them selling live animals like this fish.

When he got home, Cheng put the fish in the sink in order to keep it alive and fresh until it was time to cook it.

His son was delighted at seeing the living fish in the sink, and Cheng allowed his son to play with the animal.

But at midday, the boy’s grandmother wanted to kill the fish for her lunch. When he realized her intentions, the little boy grabbed the fish and ran off with it leaving the grandmother baffled as to where the fish had gone.

In the video filmed by his father when he discovered the boy with the fish, he can be seen crying and stroking the fish in an attempt to console it about its impending fate.

A young boy cried for his fish friend when his grandmother wanted to cook it for lunch in Handan, China. (chengsiyuan118/Zenger)

Cheng said he didn’t expect that his son would grow so fond of the fish so quickly.

Although fish need water to breathe they can sometimes survive for hours without it, which was the case with this fish that was still alive when the father took it back from his son.

In the end, Cheng killed it secretly when his son was not looking.

China ranks number one in the world in fish consumption, beating Myanmar and Vietnam, who are second and third, by almost twice as many tons of fish. China, also the world’s largest exporter of fish, exported $19.22 billion worth of fish in 2019 alone.

Just 66 percent of global fish stocks fell within biologically sustainable levels in 2017, compared to 90 percent of fish stocks in 1990, according to a report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2018, total global capture fisheries production reached the highest level ever recorded at 106 million tons of fish, with China as the world’s leading producer.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 fish caught annually are caught through illegal, unreported and unregulated, or IUU, fishing, and experts say China is the largest contributor. Several smaller countries in the Indo-Pacific region, including Tonga, struggle to protect their territorial waters from massive Chinese fishing trawlers.

Edited by Nzinga Aku Temu and Kristen Butler

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