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26 Sep 2022

Steven Lee Myers, Agnes Chang, Derek Watkins and Claire Fu, The New York Times (USA)

China's fishing operations raise alarm worldwide as concern over labour rights and commercial sustainability grows

"How China targets the global fish supply" 26 September 2022

[...] The Chinese ships since 2016 have operated off South America virtually all day, all year, moving with the seasons from the coasts of Ecuador to Peru and eventually to Argentina, where they have fished for what amounts collectively to more than 16,000 days already this year.

The scale has raised alarms about the harm to the local economies and the environment, as well as the commercial sustainability of tuna, squid and other species.

Over the last two decades, China has built the world’s largest deep-water fishing fleet, by far, with nearly 3,000 ships. Having severely depleted stocks in its own coastal waters, China now fishes in any ocean in the world, and on a scale that dwarfs some countries’ entire fleets. [...]

The Chinese effort has prompted diplomatic and legal protests. The fleet has also been linked to illegal activity, including encroaching on other countries’ territorial waters, tolerating labor abuses and catching endangered species. In 2017, Ecuador seized a refrigerated cargo ship, the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, carrying an illicit cargo of 6,620 sharks, whose fins are a delicacy in China. [...]

In the summer of 2020, the conservation group Oceana counted nearly 300 Chinese ships operating near the Galápagos, just outside Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone, the 200 nautical miles off its territory where it maintains rights to natural resources under the Law of the Sea Treaty. [...]