Water eutrophication caused by agricultural production has become one of the most important factors that impede sustainable rural environmental governance in China. As a result, the Chinese central and local governments want to reduce the use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer and gain socioeconomical profit simultaneously by promoting crayfish and rice integrated system (CRIS) in the rural areas with abundant water resources. In this article, we investigated whether CRIS in Qianjiang, Hubei, the origin place of the system in China, contributes to fulfilling the governments' expectations. We found that CRIS efficaciously cuts the fertilizer rate in rice production and boosts farmers' incomes because crayfish has a demand for water quality and holds a large internal market requirement. However, higher profit encourages farmers to expand crayfish production and thus discourages the initiatives in rice production. The area of the ditch for crayfish production expands ceaselessly and exceeds the limit of regulation of CRIS. As a result, the CRIS in the areas has emerged as a practice of aquaculture but in farmland. This is a regulatory gap. The input-output analysis of CRIS by material balance method can also reveal that excessive feed for crayfish has become a new source of agricultural pollution. Beyond that, due to the changed irrigation system and increased water exchange frequency of CRIS, the pollution has transformed from passive distribution to active, which will increase the risk of water eutrophication on a large area.
Keywords: crayfish and rice integrated system; environmental governance; integrated agriculture–aquaculture systems; water eutrophication.