Chinese Fishing Industry Exploits Gaps in Indian Ocean Laws
Chinese squid vessels were documented using wide nets to illegally catch already overfished tuna as part of a surge in unregulated activity in the Indian Ocean, according to a new report by Norway-based watchdog group that highlights growing concerns about the lack of international cooperation to protect marine species on the high seas.
The report, published Thursday by Trygg Mat Tracking, found that the number of squid vessels in the high seas of the Indian Ocean — where fishing of the species is not regulated — has exploded six-fold since 2016.
The vast majority of the vessels sailing in the high seas off the coast of Oman and Yemen were flagged to Communist China, whose overseas fleet, the world’s largest, has been dogged by accusations of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing around the world.
Behind the surge is a lack of oversight and decades of overfishing that has pushed China’s overseas fleet — officially capped at 3,000 vessels but possibly consisting of thousands more — ever farther from home.
Communist China fleet has been dogged by accusations of illegal,
unreported and unregulated fishing around the world.
Unlike in other parts of the high seas, where countries come together to jointly manage fishing grounds beyond any country’s territorial waters, there’s no such organization regulating the squid caught in the Indian Ocean.
TMT, relying on ship tracking data and an at-sea survey by Greenpeace International, found that all of the squid vessels were fishing with large nets — a practice considered far more harmful than using lures known as jigs because it generates bycatch of non-targeted species.
Among the other fish tangled in the vessels’ nets and spotted on board by drones were large species of tuna — a slow-maturing, top predator whose disappearance can indicate a dying ocean. None of the 341 vessels detected operating in the area this season was authorized to fish for tuna by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, or IOTC, which regulates the catch on the international waters.