China Fishing Fleet Is Global Goliath

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Posted by on August 10, 2009 at 16:39:06:

China’s maritime infrastructure appears to have kept pace with the country’s explosive economic growth. According to 2007 data, the Chinese fishing fleet harvested four times the tonnage of the nearest competing nation. The 17 million tons in 2007 was primarily harvested from the East China Sea; however, severely exploited national fisheries have encouraged the rapid expansion of the China’s distant water fishing fleet (DWF). Founded in the mid-1980s, the DWF had grown to approximately 2.000 vessels that fish international waters and the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of 35 countries.

China’s growing global presence in the world’s oceans has prompted concerns, given their recent track record. In March 2009, a small group of Chinese fishing trawlers accompanied by two Chinese enforcement ships and at least one Chinese naval vessel surrounded and harassed a U.S. surveillance ship 120 miles south of Hainan. Vietnam fishermen have also complained about harsh treatment of their fishing vessels by Chinese authorities. Chinese fishermen are encouraged away from local fisheries that have already been exhausted with government subsidies for the DWF. Some of the DWF fleet has shown up along the West coast of Africa, where the low-tech Chinese ships compete with coastal fishermen for low value species, such as mackerel. The growing Chinese DWF fleet also poses a threat to local food supplies in places like Somalia, where some have turned to piracy in a desperate effort to provide for their families. In addition, these fleets also represent a threat to national security to some. Their presence in strategically sensitive areas allows China an “enhanced maritime domain awareness” and the ships, which are already integrated into a maritime militia, could add potency to future Chinese military efforts.

For more information, see the 7 August 2009 article from the Asia Times, at: www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KH07Ad01.html.

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