China has fished itself out of its own waters, so Chinese fishermen are now sticking their rods in other nations’ seas - qz.com
China’s fishing fleet plundering African waters - stopillegalfishing.com
West Africa alone could be losing $1.3b annually. The Chinese have expanded fishing operations in Africa - mgafrica.com
China's fishing fleet plundering African waters - japantimes.co.jp
China has fished itself out of its own waters, so Chinese fishermen are now sticking their rods in other nations’ seas
In order to sate its population’s rising desire for nice pieces of fish—and to continue exporting seafood abroad to trading nations—the Middle Kingdom’s fishing vessels have resorted to catch throughout the high seas (i.e., international waters) and, possibly through illegal practices, in other countries’ coastal domains.
The total number of Chinese fishing boats sailing on the high seas and in other countries’ coastal areas runs just under 2,500.
China officially reported 368,000 tons of fish caught per year, on average, outside its domestic fishing areas but with field observations and interviews came up with a much different number: 3.1 million tons or more of fish per year in the same time frame, nearly 10 times what China was reporting to the FAO.
China’s fishing fleet plundering African waters
China’s fishing fleet, which reaches as far as West Africa adding to a worldwide strain on fish stocks. Photo Source: https://www.rfa.org/english/commentaries/china-fishing-12292017143920.html
Africa’s economic underdevelopment leaves it sorely exposed to exploitation by bigger players.The boarding of a Chinese vessel in Cameroon’s waters followed by the arrest of its crew for illegal fishing, and the impounding of ships and fining of their owners for the same reason in South Africa, are examples of the tougher stance being taken by African governments. But with Greenpeace documenting up to 16 cases of illegal fishing off the coast of West Africa in one month, it is evident this catch-as-catch-can approach is not an effective deterrent to illegal fishers. What is needed is international cooperation.
West Africa alone could be losing $1.3b annually. The Chinese have expanded fishing operations in Africa
A plunderer’s paradise
Yet, the lack of efficient fisheries management systems and the weak governance by West African governments have allowed companies to plunder marine resources at a low cost.
China has received a great deal of attention, with a report by Greenpeace, specifically investigating Chinese companies’ illegal fishing practices in West Africa, making some worrying discoveries. It states that in just under 30 years, Chinese companies have expanded their fishing operations in Africa from 13 vessels mushroomed up to 462 vessels which now comprise one fifth of the total Chinese-owned distant water fishing fleet.
These Chinese flagged and/or owned vessels currently fishing in African waters are predominantly bottom trawlers, one of the most destructive fishing methods in the modern fishing industry. Seabeds takes decades to recover from Bottom Trawling Illegal Fishing
There are nearly 500 Chinese vessels operating in African waters
Greenpeace investigation found that much of its African fleet underreported tonnage. Some vessels were also caught moving their catch to other vessels at sea. That meant less tax to be paid to the host nations.
Response to illegal fishing depends on fleet size. In March, Indonesian naval vessels were prevented from arresting a Chinese fishing vessel by larger Chinese coastguard vessels.
In the same month, Argentina sunk a Chinese trawler it accused of fishing illegally. This trawler was from the same company that had its vessel arrested in South African waters.
China's fishing fleet plundering African waters
The growing appetite for seafood among Chinese consumers, whose consumption grew to 34 percent of all fish consumed every year. What’s more, by 2030 Chinese consumption is expected to grow by another 30 percent.
The African continent as a whole is so dependent on China to buy its exports that nations there would be at a distinct disadvantage should they have a falling out with China over the activities of its fishing fleet.
If China wants to be recognized as a responsible global player, then it needs to start reigning in its over-marauding fishing fleets and start treating its African partners on equal terms. Signing up to the Port State Measures Agreement would be a good start.