The maritime domain was in the news recently because of aggressive Chinese actions in acquiring important strategic ports, complete domination over the world’s shipping industry and very aggressive behaviour in deep-sea fishing, which is dangerous to mankind.
Shipping lines are getting worried about over dependence on China
In February, shipping giant Maersk took possession of a new cargo vessel that can meet the International Maritime Organisation’s requirements for zero-emission shipping. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Maersk Biscayne was built by the Jiangsu New Yangzi shipyard in China, where Maersk has several more ships waiting to be built. Shipping companies are discovering that they’re far too dependent on Chinese shipyards.
Western countries’ building their shipyards will take a lot of time and money to restore anything close to what’s needed. For a long time, most countries have been dependent on the shipping requirements of China, which is a very dangerous proposition.
China’s overseas ports acquisition programme
China is a powerhouse in global trade. Its rapid growth has been significantly fuelled by decades of rising exports, bringing new emphasis to the role ports play in trade and strategic relations.
Overseas port investments and potentially military base access, particularly in countries of global and geostrategic importance near maritime chokepoints, could give China greater influence over key supply chain networks.
The worst news is that two of the most powerful European nations, France and Germany, are also offering their ports to China for economic reasons without understanding that it is a strategic disaster.
Chinese illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
This article proposes to focus on Chinese Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in all Oceans, Including the Atlantic, Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, And Indian Ocean and recommends methods to counter them.
Over the last two decades, China has built the world’s largest deep-water fishing fleet, with nearly 4,000 ships. Having severely depleted stocks in its coastal waters, China now fishes in any ocean in the world and on a scale that dwarfs some countries’ entire fleets near their waters.
The impact is increasingly being felt from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific, from the coasts of Africa to those of South America — a manifestation on the high seas of China’s global greed. Rich and ecologically diverse, the waters around the world have attracted local fishermen for centuries. Now, these waters face a much larger, more rapacious hunter: China.
Each year growing numbers of Chinese commercial ships, thousands of miles from home, fish in all parts of the world.
The Chinese ships in 2016 have operated off all continents virtually all day, all year, where they have fished for what amounts collectively to more than thousands of days. The scale has raised alarms about the harm to the local economies and the environment and the commercial sustainability of tuna, squid and other species.
China is a fisheries superpower
With an estimated 564 000 vessels, China has the world’s largest fishing fleet, per FAO. China is a fisheries superpower: according to the UN, it consumes around 36 per cent of global fish production and hauls in 15.2 million tonnes of marine life a year or 20 per cent of the world’s annual catch.
Trawlers, refuelling ships, freezer and transport vessels allow them to continue operating without going to port for months at a time, sometimes longer.” 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.
Unsurprisingly, China ranks number one on the IUU fishing index.
The fleet is routinely found to be violating the law, targeting endangered shark species, falsifying licenses and documentation, and committing human rights abuses onboard its vessels.
Chinese illegal fishing activities have been reported by media in America, Africa, Asian countries and, in fact, by all countries with a coastline. However, some of what China does is legal — or, on the open seas at least, largely unregulated. Given the growing demands of China’s increasingly prosperous consumer class, it is unlikely to end soon.
China owns the world’s largest deep-sea fishing fleet. This fleet is accused of carrying out illegal fishing activities in Indo Pacific Ocean, in the Indian Ocean in the South China Sea and, in fact, all over the water surface.
Which are these activities? What is their modest operandi? How serious are their violations of the UNCLOS? What can be done to stop them from overfishing, threatening world fishing communities?
China’s deep sea fishing fleet has been accused of engaging in various illegal fishing activities and overfishing in various parts of the world, which has led to the depletion of fish stocks and negatively impacted local economies. They have been accused of using destructive fishing methods, such as bottom trawling and dynamite fishing, which damage marine ecosystems and destroy habitats. They have been accused of engaging in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities in various regions, including the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean. Some of these illegal activities include:
1. Overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing:
This refers to fishing activities that are carried out without proper authorisation or in violation of fishing regulations. China’s fishing fleet has been accused of engaging in IUU fishing in various parts of the world, including the Indo-Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean. China’s fleet has been accused of overfishing and depleting fish stocks in various regions. China’s fleet engages in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which involves fishing in prohibited areas, exceeding fishing quotas, and using banned fishing methods. These activities can lead to overfishing, depletion of fish stocks, and damage to the marine ecosystem. China’s fishing fleet has been accused of fishing in prohibited areas, exceeding fishing quotas.
2. Use of banned fishing methods: China’s fishing fleet has been accused of using banned fishing methods, such as drift nets, which can trap and kill large amounts of marine life, and bottom trawling, which damages the seafloor and destroys marine habitats.
3. Illegal fishing in foreign waters: China’s fleet has been accused of fishing outside their jurisdiction without the necessary permits and licenses.
4. Harvesting of endangered species: China’s fleet has been accused of harvesting endangered species, such as sharks and sea turtles, for their fins and shells, respectively.
5. Illegal transhipment: China’s fleet also engages in illegal transhipment, which involves transferring fish from one vessel to another at sea. This allows them to avoid inspections and hide the origin of the fish.
6. Violation of labour laws: China’s fleet has been accused of exploiting workers, including forced labour, low wages, and poor working conditions.
The modus operandi Chinese fishing
China’s fishing fleet’s mode of operandi involves using large-scale fishing vessels equipped with advanced technology and fishing gear to catch large quantities of fish. They operate on the high seas and in other countries Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), exploiting weak fisheries management systems and lacking enforcement.
These activities are very serious as they not only deplete fish stocks and negatively impact the marine ecosystem but also significantly impact the livelihoods of local fishing communities.
These activities involve using large, industrial-scale fishing vessels equipped with sophisticated technology, such as sonar and satellite tracking, to locate and catch fish. These vessels often operate in remote areas, making it difficult for authorities to monitor their activities. Some vessels use flags of convenience to evade regulations and disguise their origins.
Effect of chinese illegal fishing
These activities seriously affect marine ecosystems, including the depletion of fish stocks, damage to seafloor habitats, and the extinction of endangered species. In addition to environmental impacts, these activities also have economic and social impacts on coastal communities of small and poor countries that rely on fishing for their livelihoods.
Stopping Chinese illegal activities
These activities are done to maximise profits and meet the demand for seafood in China and other markets. However, these activities have severe consequences for the environment, the sustainability of fish stocks, and the livelihoods of people who depend on fishing. To stop China’s deep sea fishing fleet from overfishing, IUU fishing, and engaging in other illegal activities, several measures can be taken:-
1. Strengthening regulations: Governments can strengthen regulations to monitor and enforce fishing activities, including requiring vessels to have proper licenses, prohibiting the use of banned fishing methods, and enforcing catch limits. There needs to be increased monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement of international fishing regulations. This includes implementing vessel monitoring systems, port state controls, and catch documentation schemes.
2. Increasing surveillance: Governments can increase surveillance and monitoring of fishing activities, including satellite technology, onboard observers, and aerial surveillance.
3. Collaboration among countries: Countries can work together to share information and coordinate efforts to combat IUU fishing, including through the sharing of vessel tracking data and joint enforcement operations. This requires greater international cooperation and coordination to monitor and enforce fishing regulations and develop new agreements and treaties to address issues such as illegal fishing and environmental damage. There needs to be greater cooperation between countries to share information and coordinate efforts to combat IUU fishing. This includes promoting transparency in the fishing industry and ensuring that all fishing vessels operate legally and sustainably.
4. Strengthening fisheries management and enforcement systems: This involves improving monitoring and control of fishing activities, implementing stricter regulations, and enforcing penalties for IUU fishing activities.
Technology such as satellite monitoring and electronic monitoring systems can track and monitor fishing activities, which can help identify and prevent IUU fishing activities.
5. Increase transparency and accountability in the fishing industry by requiring fishing vessels to be registered and licensed and mandating traceability systems to track fish from the point of capture to the point of sale. This can help to deter illegal fishing activities and promote sustainable fishing practices.
6. Increase public awareness
They have serious consequences for the sustainability of fish stocks, the marine ecosystem, and the livelihoods of fishermen worldwide.
The environmental and social impacts of illegal fishing and encouraging consumer demand for sustainably sourced seafood has to be increased.
This can create a market incentive for legal and sustainable fishing practices and reduce the demand for illegally caught seafood.
Consumers can play a role in reducing the demand for illegally caught fish by purchasing seafood certified as sustainable and responsibly sourced. By taking these actions, we can help to protect the marine ecosystem and ensure that the oceans are managed sustainably for the benefit of all.
Territorial Waters may be protected but
The United States, too, has pledged to assist smaller nations in countering China’s illegal or unregulated fishing practices. The U.S. Coast Guard, which now calls the practice one of the greatest security threats in the oceans, has dispatched patrol ships to the South Pacific.
President Biden has issued a national security memorandum pledging to increase monitoring of the fishing industry. Speaking virtually at a forum of Pacific nations, Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would triple American assistance to help the nations patrol their waters, offering $60 million a year for the next decade.
Such efforts may help in territorial waters, but they do little to restrict China’s fleet on the open seas. Fish consumption worldwide continues to rise, reaching a record high recently. At the same time, the known stocks of most fish species continue to decline, according to the latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report.
China’s fleet has been accused of overfishing, which means catching more fish than the ecosystem can replenish. This can lead to the depletion of fish stocks and negatively impact the entire marine ecosystem.
China’s fleet has been accused of using destructive fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, which can damage the seafloor and destroy the habitats of other marine species.
The modus operandi of China’s deep-sea fishing fleet involves exploiting weak regulations and oversight in various regions to carry out IUU fishing activities. They often use large industrial-scale fishing vessels with advanced technology to locate and catch fish.
The activities of China’s deep-sea fishing fleet are serious because they threaten the sustainability of fish stocks, which can impact the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on fishing. IUU fishing activities can also lead to conflicts between countries and damage international relations.
To stop China’s fleet from overfishing, there needs to be stricter regulation and enforcement of existing fishing laws and regulations. This includes monitoring and surveillance of fishing vessels, increasing penalties for IUU fishing, and collaborating with other countries to ensure regulations are enforced across different regions. Additionally, there needs to be greater transparency in the fishing industry, including disclosing vessel identities, fishing activities, and catch data. This will help to deter IUU fishing activities and promote sustainable fishing practices.
Stopping illegal fishing in the deep oceans requires a multi-faceted approach that involves improving regulation, enforcement, and public awareness and promoting sustainable fishing practices and international cooperation.