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Hawaii’s Fishermen Are Worried About China’s Fleet. So Is The Military


Jul 12, 2013
South Africa
South Africa
Hawaii’s Fishermen Are Worried About China’s Fleet. So Is The Military

THis is no good; you are seeing what has been happening.

2020, the Ecuadorian press, concerned about the presence of an unusual number of Chinese fishing boats off its coast, reported that the total Chinese high seas fleet (DWF) exceeded 3,000 vessels. Recent assessments have estimated China’s offshore fishing fleet at between 1,600 and 3,400 vessels, although it is unclear whether the Chinese government has a complete picture of their size.

The Chinese administration acknowledges that its distant water fishing vessels total approximately 2,600 vessels. Beijing has stated that it aims to reach 3,000 DWF ships by 2020. At the same time, the DWF fleets of the European Union, South Korea, the United States and Taiwan have significantly reduced their size.4 According to official Chinese information, the sum of distant water fishing vessels from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Spain would make up one third of the total Chinese fleet.

The Chinese deep-sea fleet
In 1985, China’s first distant water fishing fleet set sail for West Africa with only 13 vessels. Since then, five-year plans and government officials for the fishing industry have expanded its potential and tonnage without known limits, reaching the world’s number one position far ahead of its followers. Today, the large Chinese distant water fishing navy officially operates in 40 countries, in the Antarctic and in international waters around the world.

China’s fishing fleet, which plies the world’s seas, is financed by annual subsidies from the Chinese government. Depending on the source, it ranges from $7.5 billion to $16.5 billion, with aid concentrated in tax exemptions, mainly on fuel and shipbuilding.

In June 2020, the independent British think tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) published a comprehensive research report entitled “China’s distant water fishing fleet scale, impact and governance.” The most relevant and striking conclusion from the exploratory and monitoring work on the Chinese DWF fleet is its estimated size. The research provides information that should alert countries around the world to the serious threat to the marine environment and the sustainability of fisheries. The number of ships identified in the ODI report is 5 to 8 times higher than previous estimates.

World fisheries and China’s weight
China has established itself as the world’s leading country in capture fisheries. In large part, its prominent position is related to the increase in Chinese cephalopod catches in the Southeast Pacific and Southwest Atlantic, close to the Latin American coasts, officially amounting to more than half a million additional tonnes.

In 2001, the first Chinese campaign began in Latin American waters, mobilizing a total of 22 vessels. In 2015, the number of Chinese fishing vessels exceeded 250, and by the end of the current decade it exceeded 500. Some boats stay fishing off the Peruvian coast all year round, in search of other species such as horse mackerel or mackerel. Factory ships can remain at sea indefinitely, transferring the catch to other vessels that transport it to the destination ports. The Chinese distant water fleet catches between 50 and 70% of the world’s total deep-sea squid catch. Chinese fishing methods and activities within the EEZ of Argentina, Ecuador and other Latin American countries are highly controversial.

China does not fish only for squid. The Chinese distant water fleet alone caught two million tonnes, representing 40% of the world’s total distant water fleet. China fishes a lot but, fishing much more than anyone else, it fishes in proportionately large distant waters. This is especially true in underdeveloped regions, where there are insufficient controls, and in Latin America, where it is located at the limits of exclusive economic exploitation waters and, on many occasions, it violates these limits.

Since 1980, Chinese territorial waters have been overexploited. Beijing’s reaction has been to implement moratoria to reduce fishing within its waters, promote aquaculture development and encourage the development of its distant water fleet.

The excessive size of distant water fishing fleets, encouraged by subsidies, has meant that the state of marine fish stocks, based on long-term monitoring of stocks assessed by the FAO, has continued to deteriorate. The global percentage of marine species exploited at biologically unsustainable levels exceeded one third of the total in 2017. The most threatened seas are the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, with overexploitation accounting for nearly two thirds of the total number of species. In second place are the Latin American waters of the Southeast Pacific and Southwest Atlantic, with more than half of the species overfished.

In September 2015, the United Nations launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The central element of Sustainable Development Goal 14, dedicated to underwater life, is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for development. On the basis of current data and with ten years to go, it does not seem easy to achieve the targets set.

China plunders the waters of the Ecuadorian archipelago of the Galapagos
In early July 2020, the Ecuadorian navy issued a bulletin warning of the presence of a formidable Chinese fishing squadron of some 260 vessels fishing at the edge of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near the Ecuadorian Galapagos archipelago. By the end of the month, the number of vessels exceeded 340, mostly trawlers.16 The Galapagos Islands are about 1,000 kilometers from the mainland. Therefore, the waters of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zones on the mainland and the islands do not overlap, creating a corridor of international waters, where any country can fish.

Fuente: Global Fishing Watch
Global Fishing Watch
One of the serious problems associated with the protection of the Galapagos marine reserve is that many of its species are migratory, so they move in and out of the protected area. Jorge Carrión, director of the Galapagos National Park, pointed out that it is essential to protect transboundary marine corridors for the conservation of highly migratory flagship species such as sharks, whales, rays and sea turtles”.

In the meantime, the Chinese distant water fishing fleet only has to wait outside for the right moment or turn off their fish finders to go inside. In one way or another, Chinese fishermen catch the species on their migratory journeys, inside or outside the exclusive economic zones of Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina and any other Latin American country where they might be interested in fishing.

Ecuadorian Defence Minister, Oswaldo Jarrín, reported that almost half of the Chinese fleet detected last summer had turned off their tracking and identification systems, a practice known as “marine radar evasion”, which is common in illegal fishing. The ships disappeared from the radar for 17 days. Turning off the identification system is an offence if it is intentional.19 The sudden mass disappearance of the vessels suggests that many of them decided to change their fishing grounds to concentrate within Ecuadorian waters, possibly in the Galapagos.

Flota China

The pressure on China’s arable land, its traditional fishing grounds and the size of its population favor an inclination to overexploit fishery resources in distant waters, especially on the high seas. Marine biological resources are considered the world’s largest protein reserve, so owning and mastering the ocean means guaranteeing China’s food sovereignty.20

From the waters of Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and North Korea to those of Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina in Latin America, via the Gulf of Guinea, Angola, Senegal, Mozambique and Somalia in Africa, Chinese fishing vessels have become the new masters of the fishing grounds. Reduced catches in China’s traditional fishing grounds have intensified the geopolitical importance of its distant water fishing fleet in accessing the world’s fishing wealth.

Latin American countries must protect and defend their resources from overexploitation, which in many cases is illegal. The aggression of large factory vessels against the interests and sovereignty of Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina is undoubtedly a problem with both national and international dimensions. It affects the entire continent due to the migratory nature of many species. The preservation of the marine environment is a goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Andrés Gonzalez Martín/IEEE

China has the world’s largest fishing fleet, and it’s dominating the fishing industry and harming oceans, the Gatestone Institute reported. One study found that China’s fleet has almost 17,000 vessels, 5-8 times larger than estimates and what the government has reported.

The UN reports that China consumes 36% of total global fish production and brings in 20% of the world’s annual fishing catch.

Part of the reason the fishing presence is so harmful is that China’s fleet is made up of trawlers. “Trawling” is a dangerous practice whereby an apparatus sweeps the ocean floor and scoops up everything in its path. Everything in the trawlers‘ path is taken in.

“China’s leaders see distant water fleets as a way to project presence around the world. The aim is to be present all over the world’s oceans so that they can direct the outcomes of international agreements that cover maritime resources,” Tabitha Mallory, CEO of China Ocean Institute and affiliate professor at the University of Washington told Axios in March 2021.

Chinese fishing boats are spotted around the world. The Chinese fishing fleet was spotted off the coast of Ecuador in 2020, causing Ecuador’s government to alert the United States coast guard to the vessels, ABC Australia reported. Abandoned fishing boats have been found on Japanese shores and the likely reason is China’s industrial fishing fleets trawling for fish in North Korean waters. Squid stocks in North Korea have decreased rapidly thanks to a Chinese fishing presence.

Source: HawkEye 360/YouTube

Ian Urbina, the author of Outlaw Ocean, said of China’s presence, “More than any other fishing fleet in the world, [China] travels farther, stays at sea longer, pulls up more fish than anyone, and is also more routinely invading national waters.”

Sign this petition to tell member nations of the UN’s Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to restrict the overfishing of yellowfin tuna!

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