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4 Apr 2022

Edward White, The Financial Times (UK)

China’s distant-water fishing fleet faces allegations of illegal overfishing and abuse of Southeast Asian crews

"‘Devil vessels’: China’s fishing fleet faces claims of pillage and abuse", 4 April 2022

China’s distant-water fishing fleet faces new allegations of rapacious illegal overfishing, decimation of endangered species and abuse of south-east Asian fishing crews, following a cross-continent investigation by the Environmental Justice Foundation, a UK-based non-governmental organisation.

The EJF investigation, which includes graphic video footage captured by Indonesian fishermen, spotlights oversight failings by the Chinese government, the inadequacy of other countries’ fisheries regulators and the ignorance — or apathy — of consumers around the world.

In one video taken on the high seas of the south Atlantic last July, a seal was lured with squid, harpooned and then struck with a steel pipe until its skull cracked and blood gushed across its silvery coat.

EJF said the seal was just one of an unknown number of protected species slaughtered by the Chinese fleet that also included false killer whales, whale sharks, dolphins and turtles.

One Indonesian fisherman described the boat he toiled on as a “devil vessel”. [...]

Indonesian fishermen also described frequent beatings at the hands of Chinese captains and senior crew members. Workers lived in squalor and were fed expired food. They were often forced to work for days on end, only to then suffer unexplained salary deductions and wages stolen by corrupt Indonesian employment agents. [...]

China’s ministry of agriculture and rural affairs did not respond to questions. [...]