New Delhi: Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) exclusive economic zones in a number of countries by Chinese vessels is destroying economies and environment of several countries it has emerged.
This is especially impacting developing countries and coastal countries and contributed to decreases in fish stocks including endangered fish species across several continents.
China’s distant water fishing (DWF) fleet numbers around 12000-17000 vessels, with almost 1000 Chinese vessels flagged to countries other than China. These fleets started with overfishing of squids near North and South Korean and Japanese waters and have now expanded to Latin America and West Africa.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Latin America and West Africa most countries in these regions are unable to police and monitor their Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) effectively. In fact, Chinese vessels have caught fish equal to a year’s catch when it comes to Senegal. IUU fishing by China near the waters of North Korea has led to the depletion of squid stocks in the area.
It’s China’s domestic demand that is contributing to this illegal fishing, and at global scale represents 60-65% of the stake, the highest.
China uses three methods to hide its involvement in illegal fishing, Chinese boat ‘go dark’ when they are near the EEZ of another country, a large number of Chinese vessels are flagged to countries other than China; and under complex laws hide their ownership to skirt local laws.
DWF is heavily subsidised by Beijing as most of the waters near its own coast have been overfished.
The Chinese govt has stated that it plans to reduce the subsidy by 60% on DWF but even that would mean that the country remains the world’s largest provider of it.
China has refused to join a WTO-led effort to end subsidies to DWF saying its a ‘developing country’. The country is yet to sign the 2016 Port State Measures Agreement, a UN treaty requiring countries to close their ports to illegal fishing vessels.