China strictly regulates high-seas fishing, company losing $14.4m of fines

By Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/13 0:33:39

China will strictly control the scale of its high-seas fishing ships and continuously enhance the industrial threshold for enterprises, and will severely punish domestic vessels that violate laws and regulations in high-seas fishing, Chinese authorities said on Friday.

China's high-seas fishing and industrial policies and regulations over the sector have attracted much attention from the world as Chinese--- fishing boats have had disputes with countries such as Argentina, Ecuador and Indonesia for cross-border fishing or illegal transshipment of rare marine life in recent years.

Some Western organizations also believe that the rapid growth of China's offshore fishing fleet is putting pressure on global marine resources.

China is now the world's No.1 fishery producer with one quarter of the world's fishing boats.

The number of China's high-seas fishing companies was 159 in 2017, down from 167 in 2015, Yu Kangzhen, vice minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOARA), told an industrial meeting in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province on Friday.

The number of domestic fishing boats also decreased to 2,491 in 2017 from 2,512 in 2015, Yu said.

The Chinese government's goal to maintain the number of high-seas fishing vessels within 3,000 and to keep the number of offshore fishing companies to "zero growth" are baselines for the approval of Chinese offshore fishing vessels, Yu said.

China cares more about the protection and sustainability of marine resources than countries that cast doubts toward it, Liu Xinzhong, deputy director of Sea Fishery Administration of the MOARA, told the Global Times on Friday.

Liu said that the country is vigorously promoting the upgrading of ocean fishing vessels to meet environmental and health requirements, and cooperating with relevant countries to carry out resource surveys to promote sustainable fishing activities.

As to violations for illegal ocean fishing, Yu said that since 2016, China has imposed penalties on 105 illegal offshore fishing enterprises and 313 illegal fishing vessels, and have deducted their diesel subsidy of 800 million yuan ($115.7 billion). And the country has fined or rescinded 243 captains and canceled four and suspended the qualifications of nine companies.

In March 2016, Argentina sank a Chinese-flagged trawler illegally fishing in its territorial waters. In April the same year, Indonesian warships detained a Chinese trawler allegedly operating illegally in Indonesian waters, according to media reports.

In August 2017, Ecuador detained the Chinese boat Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 loaded with endangered sharks, BBC reported.

The above-mentioned enterprises were not only punished with large fines, but also suffered penalties ranging from suspension of production for several months. "The direct losses of each enterprise are more than 100 million yuan," Liu said.

"For fishing vessels with foreign-related disputes, we spare no effort to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the crew. However, once they are found to have violated laws and regulations, Chinese authorities must give them 'zero tolerance' punishment," he said.

China is also promoting the use of modern technology to monitor the location and operation of offshore fishing vessels in real time, aiming to prevent the occurrence of overseas violations, Huang Baoshan, director of China Distant Water Fishery Association, told the Global Times.

Each Chinese high-seas fishing vessel is equipped with a real-time positioning system that reports data to the country every four hours and automatically sends an alert when approaching the exclusive economic zone of other countries, Huang said.

"We are also piloting a 24-hour video surveillance system, where the conditions and operations in the cockpit of fishing vessels on the high seas are readily available to management," Huang said.


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