China cracks down on illegal deep sea fishing

Updated 2018-03-03 09:40:08

Fishing boats head to the sea from Hailing Island in Yangjiang City, south China's Guangdong Province, August 16, 2017. (Photo/Xinhua)

In a major crackdown on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in international waters, China has initiated strict actions against 78 shipping companies.

The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), after an extensive probe into complaints registered in 2016 and 2017, found 264 ships flouting international norms on sustainable fishing.

The certification of three companies to operate in international waters has been revoked and 16 ship operators, including captains, were blacklisted.

The harsh punishment also includes suspension of fuel subsidies worth 110 million US dollars, effective immediately. These companies have been charged under "Fisheries Law," "Regulations on Management of Offshore Fisheries," and "Management Measures of Fishery Crew."

Globally, large ships are forced to make the foray into the deep sea for a significant catch, a practice that started in the last decade. In turn, governments compensated shipping and fishing companies for their long voyage.

A clampdown on fishing subsidies is seen as a harsh decision to control the shipping companies going berserk in international waters.

The companies punished by the MOA were found fishing in various parts of waters around the world, including the high seas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

MOA also found that a few shipping companies were fishing for unauthorized tuna and shark species, including those listed in Appendix II of the CITES (International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The ship was confiscated by the Ecuadorian navy.

IUU fishing is highly attractive as shipping companies have to pay no taxes or duties on these catches. Poor and developing nations have become the worst victims of illegal fishing by the EU, Japan, and China in the last few years.

Alarmed by the frequent visits of these ships, West African countries have come together to form the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) to report cases of IUU.

China has a substantial deep sea fleet at 2,900 ships. Last year, the MoA released a new policy to increase its fleet size to 3,000 by 2020. The strategy aims at a more significant fish catch in compliance with international law.

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