Pompeo's accusation against China over illegal fishing groundless: embassy

By Wang Qi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/3 18:33:19

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo File photo: AFP

Chinese Embassy in Ecuador and oceanography experts have called accusations from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo false and groundless, after he smeared China for "illegal and unregulated over-fishing" near Ecuador in the East Pacific. 

Pompeo's recent remarks came after Western media reported on 260 China-flagged vessels fishing nearing Ecuador's Galapagos marine reserve, which was seen as causing environmental degradation. However, the fishing time, exact regions, fishing companies, and fishing equipment and other details remain unreported. 

The Galapagos Islands are a precious natural and cultural heritage for all mankind. Chinese fishing boats are currently operating normally and legally in waters outside the exclusive economic zone of the Galapagos, posing no threat to anyone, the Chinese Embassy in Ecuador said on Sunday, adding that China attaches great importance to the protection of the marine environment and resources. 

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, fishing in waters outside the exclusive economic zone does not impact the rights and interests of coastal states. Chinese fishing boats have neither violated Ecuador's sovereignty nor international law, Wang Yamin, a professor at Shandong University's School of Oceanography, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Deep-sea fishing is regulated by national governments and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), and there are strict regulations governing the number of ships, the method of operation, the species they catch, and conservation requirements, Wang said, noting that legal fishing in international waters is not the business of any country.

Some observers believe that global pelagic fishing should be better regulated, and more should be done to address over-fishing in different countries. Officials from China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs previously disclosed that China has 170 ocean-going fishing companies and 2,600 vessels. Observers said the scale is still relatively small compared to some major fishing countries.

The ministry enacted a new pelagic fishing regulation in March 2020, aimed at protecting marine fishery resources, strengthening ocean-going fishery supervision and management, and working with the international community to severely crack down on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishery activities.

The ministry said the new regulation has strict stipulations regarding vessel appearance, crew configurations, legal fishing certificates, accompanying supervisors, and pollution discharge. Individuals and companies that violate the regulation will be suspended or disqualified from pelagic fishing.

Wang said there has been no evidence of any illegal activity by the Chinese fishing boats. If discovered, lawbreakers will certainly be punished by the Chinese government and Ecuador reserved the right to arrest the flotilla, he added. 

China is Ecuador's second largest trading partner, with major imports of crude oil, prawns, bananas and minerals, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. 

The 40-year history of China-Ecuador relations has yielded fruitful results, and any attempt to sow discord is bound to be unpopular. The China-Ecuador relationship bears on the well-being of the peoples in the two countries, and should not become a tool used by individuals or political forces for their own selfish interests, said China's embassy in Ecuador Sunday. 

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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