Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Chinese Pirates

Number of Chinese fishing boats operating in Africa soared from 13 in 1985 to 462 in 2013, say Greenpeace, the environmental group, with ships ‘taking advantage of weak enforcement and supervision.’ Chinese companies have been illegally fishing off the coast of west Africa, at times sending incorrect location data suggesting they are as far away as Mexico or even on land. 

A two-year investigation by the environmental group found that four Chinese fishing companies, including state-owned China National Fisheries Corporation, carried out persistent “illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities and gross tonnage fraud” in west Africa.

“While China extended a hand in friendship during the Ebola outbreak, rogue Chinese companies were unlawfully exploiting west Africa’s marine environment,” said Rashid Kang, head of Greenpeace East Asia’s China Ocean Campaign.

“If China wants to be a genuine friend of Africa, it should follow the path of the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, which is slowly rectifying the EU’s own history of irresponsible fishing in the region,” said Ahmed Diame, Greenpeace Africa Ocean Campaigner.

As well as fishing in prohibited areas, Chinese fishing companies systematically under-declare the gross tonnage of their vessels, allowing them to evade licensing fees and operate in areas where large boats are forbidden. The majority of these boats are bottom trawlers, which use one of the most destructive fishing techniques. Ironically, China is taking steps to eliminate some of the most environmentally damaging fishing practices in its own waters. Faced with more competition and stricter rules at home, Chinese fishing companies are looking further afield. The lack of rigorous fisheries management and enforcement in west Africa has made it an attractive destination for large Chinese companies with the resources to send boats to distant waters.

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