Concerns about Chinese vessels overfishing on the high seas growing amidst AUKUS row

Photo courtesy of Harvard Law School National Security Journal

Amid concerns about China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, sources claim there is rising concern about Chinese vessels engaged in high-seas overfishing.

Last year, several hundred Chinese fishing trawlers were spotted in the Galapagos Islands, with the vessels apparently traveling hundreds of miles each year in search of squid.

There have also been complaints of illegal fishing, with Chinese vessels allegedly stealing tuna and sharks.

According to the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO), Chinese vessels have increased in the South Pacific, with over 550 vessels collecting tonnes of fish last year.

In 2016, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that there were 4.6 million fishing vessels globally. In a report, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stated that unregulated fishing in the Indian Ocean was on the rise.

According to WWF, fishing off the coast of Oman has increased many times and is primarily carried out by Chinese-flagged vessels.

According to reports, Chinese vessels have grown increasingly frequent on the high seas due to the depletion of its fish population, despite the country’s growing desire for a wide range of fish.

China’s increased involvement in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans coincides with the United States and Australia signing a defense treaty that will allow Canberra to build nuclear-powered submarines.

The move is largely regarded as an attempt to limit China’s operations on the high seas while also keeping a close eye on its activities in the Pacific.

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