Chinese fishing fleet wreaks havoc in Latin American oceans
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
February 09, 2022
This year will be no exception when it comes to the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices of the Chinese fishing fleet in the territorial waters of Argentina, Chile and Ecuador, the site of Argentinian independent journalism Urgent 24 said on January 3, 2022.
“It is estimated that 450 ships will be in the Argentine sea for the season which begins [in January] and ends in April, Urgent 24 reported. “In a short time, the number of ships will probably reach 500. Considering that each ship could catch about 50 tons of squid per night, the economic damage is enormous,” writes the Argentine newspaper. The Southern Opinion announced on January 14.
Every year, foreign vessels illegally extract some 750,000 tonnes of fish resources from Argentina’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the non-governmental organization (NGO) Argentina Society of Global Strategic Studies reports on its website.
Impoverishment of South America
Chinese vessels spent the first half of 2021 in the Atlantic off the coast of Argentina, plundering squid stocks, illegally transferring fish between vessels and turning off transponders, the international investigative journalism organization InsightCrime said on December 23.
Meanwhile, the Chinese fishing fleet feeds on the Argentine sea even during the closed season. “The Chinese fleet has been on the edge of the EEZ since the end of 2021, despite the Chinese government’s commitment to suspend squid fishing during the breeding and spawning season,” the Chilean newspaper said. Clarin reported.
Likewise, the fleet pillaged important fishing grounds bordering Chile and Ecuador in the Pacific. Its vessels have become experts in trawling just outside the 200 nautical mile EEZ zones of South American countries, catching millions of fish, InsightCrime noted.
Fight against IUU fishing
Several Latin American countries are taking steps to protect marine wildlife from IUU fishing. In November 2021, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama signed an agreement to strengthen the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor to protect their EEZs.
That same month, Argentina stepped up surveillance of the Chinese fleet, increasing satellite surveillance of suspicious vessels; patrolling the Strait of Magellan with naval vessels; deploy naval vessels, patrol vessels and aircraft; and increased fines for IUU fishing, InsightCrime noted.
In 2020, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Peru issued a joint statement committing to fight against IUU fishing to ensure the long-term sustenance of fishery resources, the Ecuadorian government ministry said on Twitter.
Most IUU fishing is carried out by China’s deep-sea fishing fleet, the largest in the world, which the government in Beijing subsidizes to the tune of billions of dollars a year, and which operates without restriction in all regions of the world. US-based research and utilities. says the political NGO American Security Project (ASP) on its website.
To deter these harmful fishing practices, the World Trade Organization (WTO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, is pushing negotiations to reach a multilateral agreement and establish new rules for the global fishing industry, limiting the government funding that contributes to the depletion of the planet. fish stocks, Dialogo Chinoa London-based investigative journalism organization, reported.
“In 2022, the WTO will decide whether China can continue to act without any consequences,” Urgent 24 reported. Eliminating all harmful subsidies would help fish stocks recover; more exactly, it would mean a 12.5% increase in global fish biomass by 2050, Dialogo Chino noted.