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China's distant water fishing industry: Evolving policies and implications

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This article examines China's distant water fishing industry, with a focus on China's bilateral fisheries access agreements in Africa. The article argues that China largely conforms to international norms and rules on sustainable fisheries, but that challenges remain in efforts to work with China on the sustainable management of fish stocks. Developed countries contribute to China's policies and behavior in international fisheries in both positive and negative ways.
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China’s distant water fishing industry: Evolving policies and implications
Tabitha Grace Mallory
n
Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036, USA
article info
Article history:
Received 11 February 2012
Received in revised form
18 May 2012
Accepted 18 May 2012
Available online 3 July 2012
Keywords:
China
Fisheries
Distant-water fishing
Africa
abstract
This article examines China’s distant water fishing industry, with a focus on China’s bilateral fisheries
access agreements in Africa. The article argues that China largely conforms to international norms and
rules on sustainable fisheries, but that challenges remain in efforts to work with China on the
sustainable management of fish stocks. Developed countries contribute to China’s policies and behavior
in international fisheries in both positive and negative ways.
&2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
1.1. China’s place in global fisheries
Marine fisheries depletion is a serious global natural resource
problem. In its 2010 report State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture,
the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that as of
2008, an unprecedented 85 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks
were fully exploited, overexploited or depleted [1]. The ocean is the
world’s largest protein source, and approximately 2.6 billion people
depend on the ocean as their primary protein source [2].
As the world’s largest producer of fish products (both wild catch
and aquaculture), China’s role in the sustainable management of
international fisheries is at once an issue of enormous environmental,
economic and food security implications. According to official statis-
tics, China is the world’s largest producer of wild catch (see Fig. 1).
China’s estimated total marine catch was 12.7 million tons out of an
estimated global total of 79.9 million tons in 2009 (which is about 16
percent of the world total) [1]. Some evidence suggests that China
may be inflating its catch numbers [3]. Even so, it is likely to be the
world’s largest or second largest producer of marine catch (after
Peru), and remains the world’s largest producer of fish products.
2. Material and methods
This article has two aims: to answer a theoretical question
about China’s behavior in the international system, and to provide
empirical data about a topic important to policymakers, scientists,
and environmentalists. As for the first aim, while China partici-
pates in several international institutions, including those that
govern common resource goods, many scholars of China have
debated whether China follows the norms and rules set by such
institutions, which were largely created by developed countries.
Because China is such a large fishing nation, whether China
accepts marine conservation norms and rules is an important
question. To ascertain whether China abides by international laws
on fisheries, this article examines China’s activities in global
fisheries by studying China’s distant water fishing (DWF) indus-
try. The article argues that China largely accepts international
norms and rules governing the ocean, but faces challenges in its
capacity to meet commitments to such norms and rules. More-
over, it seems that while China desires to be a responsible
participant in ocean resource governance, China also pays close
attention to the behavior of developed countries and imitates this
behavior, even when it is unsustainable. In other words, China
does as developed countries say and do. As for the second aim,
little is known about China’s DWF industry because of a lack of
transparency and the modest availability of recent information on
the issue in the English language. Therefore, this article also aims
to contribute basic understanding of China’s DWF industry and
what China’s own views on this industry are, through the
examination of Chinese sources on the topic.
In order to address these two aims, this article will begin with
an overview of the international marine legal system and its
impact on the Chinese fishing industry. It then traces the devel-
opment of China’s DWF industry and describes its current para-
meters. A section on China’s DWF operations in Africa, with
Liberia as a case study, takes a closer look at China’s DWF
industry’s impact on another region of the world. The article then
analyzes some Chinese sources on DWF in order to understand
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/marpol
Marine Policy
0308-597X/$ - see front matter &2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.05.024
n
Tel.: þ1 202 663 5816; fax: þ1 202 663 5891.
E-mail address: tabitha@jhu.edu
Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108
China’s thinking and intentions. Finally, the article concludes with
some thoughts and policy recommendations on fisheries manage-
ment moving forward.
3. Background
3.1. Domestic constraints and the impact of UNCLOS on Chinese
fishing
The growth of China’s DWF industry has been primarily
driven by domestic economic concerns. In the 1980s, it became
increasingly clear that China’s own resources were overfished.
The Chinese government has invested in conservation of domestic
fisheries resources through seasonal moratoria on fishing, vessel
decommissioning, and alternative employment programs, though
with mixed results. China’s Bureau of Fisheries stated in 2003
that it intended to decrease the size of China’s ocean fishing
fleet from 222,390 at the end of 2002 by 30,000 to 192,390 in
2010 [4]. However in 2010, the fleet was 204,500 in number [5].
As the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS entered)
into force globally in the mid-1990s (with China’s ratification in
1996), it put further restrictions on China’s domestic fishing
industry [6,7]. China’s bilateral fisheries agreements with South
Korea, Japan, and Vietnam that came into effect in the early
2000s limited traditional fishing grounds for Chinese fishermen.
The combination of domestic resource depletion and China’s
implementation of UNCLOS has led to unemployment in China’s
fishing industry. Restrictions on the Bohai and Yellow Sea mean a
direct and indirect loss of RMB 16 billion annually for Liaoning
Province [8]. Liaoning province is now allowed 4000 fishing boats
in the Sino–Korean and Sino–Japanese areas, which has meant
40,000 fishermen are facing difficulties, and 170,000 people are
indirectly affected. A third of Liaoning’s fishing industry and
fishermen has been affected. Shandong has lost 40 percent of
its former fishing areas. In 2009, Yantai City in Shandong
Province, for example, reported dismantling 23 fishing boats
and transferring over 100 fishermen out of the fishing industry
in order to meet China’s obligations to bilateral fishing agree-
ments with Japan, Korea, and Vietnam [9]. Restrictions in the East
China Sea have also impacted Jiangsu and Zhejiang. In Jiangsu,
two-thirds of previous fishing areas have been lost, affecting
30,000 fishermen [8].
China has sought to relieve unemployment pressures through
development of its aquaculture and DWF industries (see Fig. 2).
Expansion of China’s distant water fishing industry is currently
driven more by employment concerns and profit than by food
needs. About half of the fish (particularly the high-value species)
that China catches is exported to developed countries, though
domestic consumption of high-value fish products is predicted
to rise as China’s middle class expands. China has the largest labor
force employed in the fishing and aquaculture sector globally,
with a total of 13.3 million people employed in the sector, and
8.5 million people employed full time [1]. China’s aquaculture
sector has relieved some of the pressure from unemployment in
the marine capture sector: between 1990 and 2000, employ-
ment in the aquaculture sector in China increased by 189
percent [1]. One report advocates the continued development of
China’s DWF industry as a solution to nationally displaced sh-
ermen because it will have a multiplier effect throughout the
economy. For example, the report estimates that 29 distant
water fishing boats built in 2008 had a ripple effect in China’s
economy of about RMB 3.4 billion (about $500 million) [10].
Since Chinese domestic fishing has been considerably curtailed
and despite China’s pledges of cooperation on fisheries issues,
illegal fishing boats captured abroad are often of Chinese origin.
Since 2001, the South Korean Coast Guard has captured 3808
Chinese boats fishing illegally in South Korean waters [11].
Taiwan reported an increase in illegal Chinese fishing vessels
near Kinmen following a Chinese ban on fishing in China’s rivers
to stem overfishing [12].
China’s fishing activities in Asia have gradually developed a
security dimension as competition for resources increases in
disputed territory. In the past few years, disputes between fishing
vessels from different countries in the South China Sea have
increased as China, the Philippines, and Vietnam detain each
other’s fishing vessels in waters that each country claims
as its own [13]. In April and May 2012, relations between
the Philippines and China soured due to a standoff between a
Philippine naval ship and Chinese marine surveillance vessels
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
catch in million tons
Year
Landings by Fishing Country in the Global Ocean
Others
Korea (South)
Thailand
Indonesia
India
Norway
Chile
USA
Russian Federation
China
Peru
Japan
Fig. 1. Source: Sea Around Us Project, www.seaaroundus.org.Note: The Sea Around Us Project calculates its statistics through a number of different sources, therefore its
statistics vary from China’s officially reported statistics. Some fisheries experts believe that China’s catch statistics are artificially inflated [3].
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108100
over alleged illegal Chinese fishing around Scarborough Shoal.
Tensions in other parts of China’s near seas have escalated as well,
for example in violent skirmishes between Chinese fishermen and
the coast guards of Japan and Korea in September and December
2010 respectively. In June 2011, a Chinese fishing boat collided
with an exploration cable from a Vietnamese seismic survey
vessel. In December 2011, an illegal Chinese fisherman stabbed
to death a South Korean coast guard official. As a result of all of
these dynamics, Chinese fishing fleets are traveling farther to fish,
affecting areas outside of Asia.
3.2. Overview of China’s distant water fishing industry
Article 62 of UNCLOS stipulates that when a coastal State does
not ‘‘have the capacity to harvest the entire allowable catch, it
shall, through agreements or other arrangements ygive other
States access to the surplus of the allowable catch.’’ This provision
has led to fisheries access agreements to allow a state’s DWF
fleets to fish in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other host
countries. Historically the largest DWF entities are Japan, Spain,
South Korea, the former USSR/Russia, and Taiwan.
China’s ‘‘Distant Water Fishing Supervisory Provisions,’’
promulgated by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2003, defines distant
water fishing as ‘‘citizens, legal entities, and other organizations
of the People’s Republic of China engaging in marine fishing and
its processing, supply and product transportation activities on the
high seas and in the sea areas under the jurisdiction of other
countries, but does not include fishing activities in the Yellow Sea,
East China Sea, or South China Sea’’ and states that ‘‘the Ministry
of Agriculture is responsible for the planning, organization, and
administration of the distant water fishing industry, though the
Ministry also works with the State Council and other related
departments over policy and supervision of the industry’’ [14].
The Provisions provide a variety of instructions on regulation,
licensing, requirements, and supervision for the industry. The
Ministry of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries has a Distant Water
Fishing Subdivision.
China’s DWF industry dates back to 1985, when China’s fishing
industry began expanding outward from China. Despite lack
of experience, knowledge, and technology, Chinese companies
pursued DWF as an economic opportunity. One company, Liaon-
ing Dalian Distant Water Fishing Company, was on the verge of
bankruptcy in 1984 when its chairman Zhang Yi expanded
operations to include DWF [15]. At that time, only 100 million
tons of fishery products were produced annually globally and
Zhang Yi argued that 3 billion tons of fishery products could be
taken every year without harming the biological balance. The
company’s first fishing boat, purchased from Germany, sailed to
the Bering Strait. Now the company’s boats are found in the North
Pacific, South Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Zhang Yi argues
that with a population of 1.3 billion people, China’s share of world
fishing resources is too small. He says that China should abide by
the fishing standards set by advanced countries. For China, DWF
should be seen from a national food security perspectiveChina
should make use of world resources to meet its needs.
Zhang Yanxi, China’s then Vice Minister of Agriculture, set
forth a similar view. In describing China’s first DWF fleet, that of
the China National Fishing Corporation whose 13 boats set sail to
West Africa in 1985, he argued that DWF was necessary to meet
the demand of China’s population undergoing rapid economic
development and to enrich the food basket of both urban and
rural areas in China. As living standards improve, he explained,
demand for marine products will further increase [16].
The DWF industry has continued to grow since then
(see Figs. 3 and 4). China maintains that DWF is an important
part of its official ‘‘going out’’ strategy, which was elaborated in
China’s 2001–2005 tenth five-year plan and encourages Chinese
companies to search for new markets and invest abroad [17].
Today China has the largest DWF fleet in the world in terms of
quantity of vessels, although China’s production capacity and
industrial scale is much smaller than that of developed countries
[10]. China has a number of fisheries access agreements in the
form of state-to-state bilateral agreements that allow its distant
water fleets access to resources in the EEZs of other nations. Some
discrepancy exists in Chinese sources on the size and production
of the DWF industry. One article, citing figures from the Chinese
Bureau of Fisheries, states that in 2010, China had 1899 DWF
boats, with a total output of RMB 13.6 billion (about $2.07
billion), representing a growth of 8 percent and 53 percent over
the period of the tenth five-year plan [18]. The 2011 China
Fisheries Yearbook reports that in 2010, the industry had 111
DWF enterprises operating in 35 countries with 1989 boats,
producing a total of 1.116 million tons, valued at RMB 11.92
billion (about $1.8 billion), the latter two figures representing an
increase over the previous year of 14.2 percent and
32 percent respectively. Of the total catch, 636,000 t worth RMB
6.27 billion came from the EEZs of other countries, whereas 476,000 t
worth RMB 5.57 billion was taken from the high seas [19]. The
0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
catch in 0,000 of tons
Year
China's Total Aquatic Production
Freshwater Aquaculture
Freshwater Catch
Mariculture
DWF
Domestic Marine Catch
Fig. 2. Source: 2011 China Fishery Statistical Yearbook.
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108 101
2011 China Fishery Statistical Yearbook reports that of the total
catch, 54 percent was transported back to China, and the rest was
sold abroad. Tuna and squid accounted for 14.6 percent and 32.9
percent of total catch respectively [5]. According to another report
published in 2008 by a task force examining DWF of the over
1800 boats in the industry in 2007, about 500 of them were squid
jiggers, almost 400 were tuna boats, almost 800 were trawling
boats, and over 100 were purse-seiners and other fishing vessels
[20]. According to the 2011 China Fisheries Yearbook, Chinese
companies have 732 vessels operating in eight Asian countries,
with 456 off the east coast of North Korea (predominantly squid
jiggers), 133 vessels in Indonesia, 72 vessels in Myanmar, and
additional vessels in Malaysia, India, Thailand, the Philippines,
and Bangladesh. On the high seas, China has profitable squid
operations in the North and Southeast Pacific Ocean, as well as in
the Southwest Atlantic Ocean (including squid operations in
Argentina’s waters). In 2010, Chinese companies landed 240,000
t of squid valued at RMB 2.4 billion, and introduced 100 new
squid jiggers built in Zhoushan into the industry. China’s tuna
industry in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean landed 160,000
t worth RMB 2.5 billion in 2010. Chinese companies plan on
expanding albacore tuna fishing since ‘‘as yet international
organizations have no management measures in place’’ for this
species, and 30 new longline vessels were introduced in 2010 for
this purpose [19]. Several sources were in agreement that the
DWF industry directly employs about 50,000 people. Another
report states that in the Putuo district of the city of Zhoushan in
Zhejiang province, the DWF industry employs 6000 people
directly and another 40,000 people indirectly [10].
The DWF industry has evolved from being entirely state-
owned to being 70 percent privately owned. A third of the
industry is composed of a large Chinese state-owned enterprise,
Chinese National Fisheries Corporation and its subsidiaries, which
maintained 556 of a total of 1652 boats in the industry in 1999.
The rest of the industry is composed of regional middle-sized
companies and small coastal companies [21]. Because of this
gradual change in ownership structure, the Chinese government
now has less control over the activities of its fishing enterprises.
China plans to expand its DWF industry and update its fleets
through state subsidies. China aims to increase its DWF fleet to
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
catch in million tons
Year
China's Global Marine Catch
Other EEZs
High Seas
China's EEZ
Fig. 3. Source: Sea Around Us Project, www.seaaroundus.org.Note: Here EEZ catch includes both catch in the EEZs of neighboring countries in the Yellow Sea, East China
Sea, and South China Sea as well as distant waters. China distinguishes between the two.
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
catch in 0,000s of tons
Year
China's Marine Catch, Domestic vs DWF
DWF
Domestic Marine Catc
h
Fig. 4. Source: 2011 China Fishery Statistical Yearbook. Note: DWF includes high seas catch and distant waters, excluding catch in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South
China Sea.
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108102
2300 ships by the end of the twelfth five-year plan (in 2015) for
an output of 1.7 million tons and an estimated value of RMB 18
billion (about $2.6 billion) [10]. One report explains the Ministry
of Agriculture’s eleventh five-year plan to develop the DWF
industry, stating that the Ministry of Agriculture coined the
concept of ‘‘grabbing the high seas and EEZs with two hands,
they form two wheels turning together’’ [20]. The report states
that this plan aimed to increase the DWF industry to 2200 boats
by the end of the eleventh five-year plan (in 2010), with 1400
boats fishing in the EEZs of other countries for a target of 840,000
t of catch with a value of RMB 5.5 billion and 840 boats on the
high seas for a target of 860,000 t of catch and a value of RMB
6 billion, with an expansion from operations in 34 countries to
38though it does not appear that this plan was successful. The
plan also aimed to improve the quality of fishing operations
though quality assurance systems, improved processing (such as a
mobile processing seabase), and utilization of ports that are
farther away to develop new large-scale fishing operations.
China also plans to develop nontraditional fisheries, such as
Antarctic krill. In 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture implemented
an inaugural exploratory catch of Antarctic krill that resulted in
1846 t and ‘‘laid a solid foundation for the development and
utilization of Antarctic resources.’’ China also ‘‘carried out pre-
liminary research on the fishing area, meteorological conditions,
fishing equipment and methods, processing and utilization, as
well as the biological traits of Antarctic krill’’ [18,22].
To achieve these objectives, the Chinese state will ‘‘provide
corporate tax relief; reduce import duties or value added taxes;
provide subsidies to renovate boats; reduce taxes on import of
second hand equipment like ultra-low temperature, trawling, and
purse-seiner tuna boats; provide subsidies for the development
and exploration of new fisheries, and fuel subsidies’’ [20]. The
Chinese state invested over RMB 10 million every year during the
tenth five-year plan (2001–2005) to develop fisheries resources
(such as tuna and squid) and more efficient fishing technology.
Without such subsidies, it is doubtful that China’s DWF
industry would remain profitable. As three economists showed
in their analysis of subsidies from 2003 to 2008 provided to China
National Fisheries Corporation, the subsidies necessary for the
company to remain profitable rose steeply beginning in 2006, to
the point that subsidies were equal to approximately half of the
company’s net profit in 2008 [23].
1
China is the world’s second
largest subsidizer of its fishing industry, with harmful, capacity-
increasing subsidies equaling 20 percent of the overall value of its
catch in 2000 [24].
4. Analysis
4.1. China’s distant water fishing operations in Africa
China’s involvement in African fisheries potentially impacts
African food security and livelihood. The World Bank estimates
that up to half of the animal protein in West African diets comes
from fish [25]. Fishing is an important source of employment for
many African countries, for example the fishing sector employs
10 percent of the labor force in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Cape
Verde, and 17 percent in Senegal [26].
China is already an important presence in West African
fisheries. For example, in Liberian coastal waters, China is the
largest foreign fishing country and some argue that Chinese illegal
fishing and overfishing are displacing local fishermen [27].
In Senegal, ocean products make up the largest export good to
China (63 percent in 2005) and the fishing and shipping industries
are by far the predominant destinations for Chinese foreign direct
investment into the country [28].Senegal Peche, a subsidiary of
China National Fisheries Corporation, is the largest commercial
fishing company in Senegal, with a fleet of 12 boats [28].
Exact details of China’s DWF industry in Africa are hard to
come by due to a lack of publicly available information. China
signed bilateral agreements with South Africa (1978), Guinea-
Bissau (1984), Guinea (1985), Senegal (1985), Sierra Leone (1985),
and Mauritania (1991) to allow for Chinese companies to fish in
the offshore waters of these countries.
2
The 2011 China Fisheries
Yearbook reports that in 2010, China’s DWF companies had 394
vessels operating in 11 African countries, with the larger-scope
operations in Mauritania, Guinea, and Morocco. In West Africa,
total catch amounted to 166,000 t worth RMB 1.71 billion. These
figures represent a decrease of 13 and 10 percent from the
previous year respectively, which the 2011 Yearbook attributes
to a decline in natural resources, increased fishing licensing fees,
and restrictions on coastal processing facilities and fishing
seasons. In 2010, new partnerships were reached with Mada-
gascar and Mozambique, which signifies an expansion into East
African fisheries [19]. In 2005, there were approximately 70
foreign trawlers and sardine purse seiners in Sierra Leone’s
waters, and among them Dalian International Company and
China Water Distant-water Fisheries Company LLC had 20 and
16 shrimp trawling boats, respectively [29]. Another publication
(from 2010) mentions 202 trawling vessels in West Africa, 110 of
them over 20 years old and ‘‘in need of replacement in order to
maintain competitiveness’’ [10].
Fisheries governance experts argue that fisheries access agree-
ments on the whole have led to unsustainable use of fisheries
resources and have negatively impacted the socioeconomic devel-
opment of host countries [3035]. In Africa, DWF has depleted
fisheries resources through overfishing, misreported catches and
landings, fishing in illegal areas (such as artisanal zones or in the
waters of other countries), transshipped catch at sea, or using
inappropriate methods or gear (e.g., trawling or illegal mesh
sizes). DWF has led to overcapacity in the fishing industry, and
has negatively impacted domestic large- and small-scale (artisa-
nal) fishers by squeezing them out of the industry (due to one or
more of the following reasons: fewer fish are available, DWF
nations pay higher license fees than locals do, or foreigners
destroy the gear of domestic fishermen). DWF has not led to
increased employment, economic growth, or food security in host
countries. Between 1992 and 1996, employment in the fishing
sector in Ghana decreased by 20 percent because of decreased
catch per boat [36]. Fisheries access agreements, especially those
signed with Asian countries, lack transparency. These agreements
may foster dependency on the fishing nation for income from
fishing feesin Mauritania, fishing fees account for 27 percent of
the state budget [30]. Government corruption is a key challenge
to sustainable fisheries management in resource-rich African
countries, for example officials in some countries sell too many
fishing licenses in order to collect the fees, fishing nations may
intervene diplomatically on behalf of their fleets caught fishing
illegally, and inspectors may be bribed to not report fishing
violations [34]. Some host countries may be afraid of cracking
down on illegal fishing because it may jeopardize other develop-
ment aid projects contributed by the fishing nation, for example
1
In 2008, the company’s total income was about RMB 202 million, while total
costs were about RMB 151, for a net profit of about RMB 51 million. However, that
same year, the company was given about RMB 18 million in fuel subsidies and
about RMB 7 million in other subsidies for a total of RMB 25 million, or about half
of the company’s net profit.
2
There are probably more agreements, but these were the only agreements
for which evidence could be found.
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108 103
in Mozambique commentators believe that illegal Chinese fishers
escape punishment because China has become so influential in
that country [34].
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a signifi-
cant governance problem to which China contributes. Estimates
of global IUU fishing range from 14 percent to almost 30 percent
of global catch, with an estimated value between $10 billion and
$23.5 billion annually [37]. IUU fishing is most prevalent in FAO
area 34, the Eastern Central Atlantic, which is off the coast of
West Africa, with total estimated catches being approximately 40
percent greater than reported catches [37]. Many DWF fleets fish
in this area and contribute to the problem.
There is a correlation between IUU fishing and poor
governance, with IUU fishing being greater in areas where
countries score low on governance indicators, such as in West
Africa [37]. Of all possible vulnerability indices in one study,
poor governance was the most statistically significant in pre-
dicting IUU fishing [38].
Addressing IUU fishing is important because of the negative
economic, social, and environmental impacts it has. IUU fishing
poses threats to: sustainable management of fisheries resources
(for example by skewing stock assessments); food security; the
livelihoods of people dependent on the resource, especially in
developing countries; and the broader ecosystem (for example by
disregarding regulations on bycatch or gear restrictions). Illegal
fishing also poses dangers to consumers because vessels often do
not comply with hygiene standards.
Illegal fishing boats of Chinese origin or with Chinese crew
have been captured off the coast of African countries. Reports by
observers in Guinea and Sierra Leone state that Chinese and South
Korean vessels dominate IUU fishing in West Africa [31,38].
Of IUU vessels observed fishing illegally in Guinean waters, over
half were Chinese, far more than those of any other country
[31,38]. Liberia has licensed 17 fishing vessels, but one World
Bank fisheries specialist estimated that there were 200 industrial
vessels operating in Liberian waters [39]. Many of these vessels
are based in Guinea. In March 2009, a vessel with 70 t of illegal
catch was captured by a South African patrol boat in Tanzanian
water 180 nautical miles from Dar es Salaam [40]. Guinea-Bissau
reports that 40,000 t of fish are illegally captured from its waters
annually45 percent of the country’s revenue comes from fishing
taxes [41]. South Africa has had problems with Chinese poaching
abalone from its coastal waters [42]. Mozambique captured an
illegal Chinese ship with 13 metric tons of fish, including shark
fins and tuna [43]. Evidence indicates that Chinese vessels reflag
to flags-of-convenience states, but Chinese vessels seem to do so
less frequently than other DWF entities [44].
4.1.1. Case study: Liberia
This section examines in detail the impact of China’s DWF in
one West African country, Liberia, for a better understanding
of the issues involved. Liberia’s protracted civil war ended in
2003, leaving the country faced with serious challenges in
employment, crime, infrastructure, and government capacity.
Liberia has rich natural resources, including offshore fisheries.
Over 80 percent of Liberia’s population of 4 million depends on
fish as a protein source [45]. Liberia’s commercial species include
the croaker (cassava fish), barracuda, grouper, bonito, snapper,
swordfish, and butter nose. According to one commercial fishing
company in Liberia, 70 percent of their catch is shipped to Europe
and 30 percent stays in Africa. High-value catch such as shrimp
are destined for Europe, while lower quality fish such as croaker
stay in Africa.
Artisanal fishermen have exclusive rights to fish in the artisa-
nal fishing zone, which extends six nautical miles from the coast.
There are about 33,000 artisanal fishermen, composed of three
types: the Popo, who fish with purse-seining vessels; the Fanti,
who have large motorized canoes with a crew, use large nets and
fish farther out from shore; and the Kru, who fish alone on small
canoes with hook and line. Liberia also has a small industrial
fishing sector composed of three companies, which employ about
200 people. Only the industrial fleets are required to have fishing
licenses. Industrial vessels frequently violate the moratorium on
industrial fishing in the artisanal zone.
There are two Chinese fishing companies in Liberia: Dalian
Haiyang, which is a state-owned company, and Nashile, which is
privately owned. Each company has two pairs of trawling vessels.
The Chinese have a processing center in Ghana, and often bring
fish caught in Liberian waters there for processing since Liberia
does not have processing centers. Dalian Haiyang has been in
Liberia since 2003, while Nashile has been in Liberia since the
beginning of 2010.
The first major problem that the Liberian Bureau of Fisheries
has with the Chinese companies is conflict with the artisanal
fishermen. Occasionally this conflict turns violent [39]. The
Chinese fishing boats collide with the artisanal canoes ‘‘monthly,’’
mostly with the Fanti but also with the Kru. There are accounts of
artisanal fishermen being sprayed with hot water by the Chinese.
Kru fishermen have been knocked off of their boats by Chinese
vessels. The Bureau of Fisheries handled one case in which a
Liberian sailor was detained on a Chinese trawling boat and
severely beatenultimately the Chinese company paid for the
damages and the Liberian sailor dropped the case. In summer
2010, a Liberian fisherman accused the Chinese of giving him
serious burns. Not all of the cases get reported to the Bureau of
Fisheries, but the Bureau tries to address the ones that do. One of
the difficulties is the crew sometimes covers vessel names with
fishing nets, so it is hard to identify which vessels they are. The
Liberian industrial companies and the Popo do not have conflicts
with the Chinese, but they complain about Chinese fishing
practices because it takes fish away from the local fishermen.
The second major problem is unsustainable fishing methods.
The Chinese are engaged in pair trawling, where two ships drag a
huge net in between them, a destructive practice because it
scoops up everything in its path and results in large numbers of
bycatch (such as juvenile or nontarget species) and fewer fish for
local fishermen. The Bureau of Fisheries stated that the Chinese
will trawl for up to 6 h, and that many of the fish caught in the
first hour will have perished and are no longer fit for consump-
tion. West African states largely agreed to stop this destructive
practice at an Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) meeting in Gambia. The numbers of pair trawlers in
Liberia has been reduced significantly from about 30 vessels in
2006–07, but there are currently eight vessels engaged in the
practice.
A third problem is language. One Bureau of Fisheries official
reported that the Chinese visit the Bureau with an interpreter or
speak a little bit of English, but then when there is a problem,
‘‘they pretend they don’t speak English.’’
Despite these issues, the Bureau of Fisheries said that they
welcomed the Chinese presence, as long as they abide by the
rules. The Chinese have provided helpful aquaculture training to
Bureau officials. However, the Liberian liaison to the Chinese
fishing companies said that he fears that if Liberia strengthens
these rules over pair-trawling, the Chinese companies will leave
[39]. He argues that local Liberians have benefited from having
cheaper fish on the market thanks to Chinese production. If the
Chinese leave, then the prices will be set by the fish producers, for
what will be a ‘‘sellers’ market.’’ He said that there are 20–30
vessels fishing illegally in Liberian waters, so the companies who
are fishing legally should be rewarded. Indeed, the representative
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108104
of Nashile stated that his company would consider leaving if
Liberia outlawed pair-trawling [39].
4.2. Chinese views on its distant water fishing industry
Studying what Chinese government officials, scholars, and
journalists say about the development of China’s DWF industry
is useful for better understanding the ideas that influence China’s
policies and actions on the matter. While this section is by no
means comprehensive, it provides a preliminary view of Chinese
literature on the topic and attempts to begin to fill a knowledge
gap for other countries on what China’s concerns and ambitions
are in this industry. In sum, voices in China discussing the DWF
industry fall across a spectrum that ranges from expansionary to
cautionary.
Two industry reports encourage the further development of
DWF. It is hardly surprising that these stakeholders would have a
great interest the continued existence of their industry; of course
this is also the case in other countries.
In September 2010, a task force composed of twelve people
affiliated with the State Council, Chinese DWF companies, indus-
try associations, and universities published a report advocating
supporting and strengthening China’s DWF industry [10]. The
report states that even though much of the world’s traditional
fisheries are overexploited, there is room for expansion into other
fisheries, such as Antarctic krill. Because of the pressure on China
in terms of arable land and population, the report continues,
developing distant water ocean resources, especially on the high
seas, will decrease pressure on China’s land and domestic ocean
resources. In advocating for expansion of DWF for food security
reasons, the report argues that ‘‘marine biological resources are
seen as the largest store of protein, therefore owning and
mastering the ocean means owning and mastering the future.’’
The report sees expanding DWF as a way to guard China’s
ocean interests and seek international space for development
because, it says, the more international space China has, the more
resources and benefits China can obtain. The report argues that
while the ocean ecosystem should be managed under a frame-
work of sustainable development, at the same time those coun-
tries that have had a longer history of using the ocean have
achieved more say in how ocean resources are distributed and
thus receive a larger share of those resources; in other words, the
authors say, the international fisheries management system is
one of ‘‘if you occupy and possess, then you have rights and
interests.’’ Later in the document, the authors note that there are
serious challenges in the ‘‘race to seize’’ international resources,
including the fact that developed countries ‘‘secretly’’ subsidize
their DWF fleets or act on behalf of their industries through
political, economic, or diplomatic means.
The report says that the DWF industry serves as a way of
consolidating and expanding China’s diplomatic relations and over-
seas economic cooperation. It continues saying, ‘‘the status of China
in international institutions has greatly increased, and with it China’s
voice has expanded in every kind of natural resource conservation
organization, reflecting China’s real existence in maritime space and
upholding its rights.’’ In all the organizations that China has
participated in, China’s DWF industry has ‘‘actively won a definite
quantity of fishing quotas.’’ The report points out that China’s DWF
also contributes to friendship and cooperation with other countries,
by promoting local economic development, providing training and
employment, and fulfilling other social responsibilities like disaster
relief.
A second report published in 2008 by an industry association
strives to provide a comprehensive overview of China’s DWF
industry in terms of economics and trade, law, regulation and
management, stages of development, policies, future trends,
industry development, and positive and negative aspects [20].
The report indicates that the industry is concerned about a lack of
competitiveness with developed countries because of China’s
outdated boats and equipment, skyrocketing fuel prices, as well
as a lack of information about resources and risk assessment.
China pays attention to what DWF fleets in other countries are
doing. The report provides a great amount of detail on the DWF
operations of Japan, the former USSR, the EU, South Korea, and
Taiwan, such as numbers and types of vessels, and amounts and
types of catch. The report details the development of fisheries
vessels, equipment, and technologysuch as bigger and better
boats, magnetic fishing techniques, satellite systems and remote
sensingby developed countries such as Norway, Spain, the
Netherlands, South Korea, Iceland, Germany, the United States,
Japan, and France.
China also pays attention to the international legal and
regulatory landscape that China’s DWF companies face. The
report details barriers to aquatic imports in developed countries
such as technical barriers, rules of transparency and origin, safe-
guarding measures, and quotas. Many countries have ‘‘tedious
and strict rules of origin requirements,’’ which, the authors say,
have become a protectionist tool and are non-tariff barriers in
practice. The EU has strict requirements for its aquatic imports,
such as on sanitary standards, ‘‘green barriers’’ for health reasons,
and labeling requirements‘‘this type of strict system, for devel-
oping countries, is a kind of new trade barrier.’’ For its part, the
United States has a number of labeling and packaging require-
ments plus numerous regulations on protection of marine
resources. The United States pays a great deal of attention to
environmental issues, the report notes (and lists many U.S.
environmental conservation laws), and ‘‘can place trade sanctions
on other countries to compel them to abide by these laws, which
serve as barriers to imports.’’ The authors say that it is hard for
Chinese DWF companies to meet the requirements of export-
destination countries, for example the companies cannot meet a
majority of EU requirements. The report points out that interna-
tional management of high seas resources has become stricter as
well. Coastal states increasingly want to protect their ocean
resources, and now require more cooperation with existing
regulations, levy higher fishing license fees, and are creating
new restrictions. The report notes the recent establishment of
regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and fish-
ing-quota allocations, which ‘‘make competition intense on the
high seas.’’
Several academic articles also assess the impact of an evolving
international marine governance system on China and its fishing
industry [4650]. One article emphasizes active cooperation with
other countries over sustainable use of fisheries resources, stres-
sing the need for China to establish an image of a responsible
fishing country [51]. The authors note that since the 1990s,
African countries have stepped up administration and mutual
cooperation over fisheries, will become increasingly strict and
request higher returns for use of the resource, and thus make it
harder for China to fish there. Moreover, the article continues,
resources in East and West Africa are already fully developed,
making it difficult to enter the industry therethese factors will
makethecostoffishingriseandefciencyandprotability
decline. Furthermore, the authors warn, if China does not adopt a
cooperative attitude with coastal countries on protecting fish-
eries resources nor abide by their laws, then China will lose the
permission from many host countries to fish there. Argentina
and Uruguay (as well as other South American countries), where
China fishes for squid, have changed their regulations over
administration and maritime surveillance, equipment, statistics
and reports, and handling of fishif China does not meet some
of these new conditions, the article states, China will lose the
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108 105
permits that it has worked hard to earn. The article does caution
that some developed DWF countries, in order to enhance their
own competitiveness in areas, will certainly use the excuse of
resource conservation to keep other new countries out, such as
by signing agreements with these host countries that limit the
number of countries and fishing boats in certain areas. But
overall, the piece calls for strengthening responsible fishing;
improving DWF administration such as observation and mon-
itoring, registration and permit systems, and quality control; and
creating a fishing statistical system so China can macro-manage
its fishing scale, improve knowledge of fisheries working condi-
tions, and fulfill obligations to provide necessary data to inter-
national organizations and concerned countries. Finally, the
article calls for adjusting the subsidy system so that it is more
‘‘green,’’ for example by providing stakeholders with training
about sustainable fishing according to UNCLOS.
Another article outlines the major problems facing the
sustainable development of China’s DWF industry, including:
(1) DWF fleets increasing too fast to protect ocean resources;
(2) marine pollution not yet being effectively curbed; (3) dramatic
increases in the costs of production, especially fuel; (4) a drastic
reduction of fishing zones because of UNCLOS, leading to a loss of
income for fishermen; (5) a continuous decline in fishing
resources, for example fish becoming smaller; and (6) the price
of fish being too low [52].
While some Chinese fisheries scholars point to the ecological
strains on global fisheries in their publications, others appear to
not take them very seriously, nor do they seem to consider the
socioeconomic impact of the fishing activities of DWF fleets on
host countries. One article in particular merits some extended
discussion to illustrate this attitude. In ‘‘Research on Manage-
ment Models of China’s Fishing Companies in Africa,’’ the author
opens by describing the ‘‘rich, uncontaminated, and profitable’’
fisheries resources in Africa that provide ‘‘a hot spot’’ of oppor-
tunities for China, a country, which in contrast, is plagued by
overcapacity in its own fisheries [53]. The author entreats the
reader to understand local policies and conditions in Africa, and
to abide by local laws, lest ‘‘opportunities become a trap.’’ The
author provides three cases studies in Equatorial Guinea, Mor-
occo, and Cameroon from which Chinese distant water fishing
companies can learn management techniques. The author then
delves into the first case study on Guinea. He explains that while
Guinea has a long coastline with rich natural resources, there are
many disadvantages: because Guinea is among the weaker
economies of the third world, consumption of fish in Guinea is
so low that selling fish in Guinea is not profitable enough to
cover production costs; to protect artisanal fishers, Guinean
regulations do not allow issuance of long-term permits to
foreign industrial vesselsonly monthly or six-month tempor-
ary permits are available to outsiders; and finally, because
Guinea lacks port infrastructure such as cold storage facilities,
fish products must be transported to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria.
This situation ‘‘results in a unique model of management:
purchase of free permits, ‘guerrilla-style’ fishing.’’ The author
elaborates that ‘‘when the resources are good,’’ Chinese fishing
companies can buy temporary fishing permits to legally fish in
Guinea, but ‘‘when resources are bad, Chinese fishing companies
can immediately withdraw from Guinea in order to avoid losses.
This management mode is economical and flexible.’’ The author
then describes how a World Bank project to provide fishing
boats in Morocco failed because ‘‘Moroccan fishermen lacked
management knowledge and fishing technology, were unable to
make a profit, and thus unable to repay the cost of the boats.’’ He
suggests a joint-venture scheme with Morocco that involves
valuing Chinese fishing boats at double their true cost, Morocco’s
need to rely on China for repair and importing gear from China,
and the most important positions on the boats and fish proces-
sing jobs going to Chinese (‘‘even if Morocco wants employment
of locals,’’ these Chinese positions ‘‘Morocco cannot replace’’
with locals). After this, author describes a third management
model with Cameroon. Because Cameroon does not allow for-
eigners to fish in national waters, a Chinese company can form a
joint venture with a local Cameroonian company and then rent
boats to the joint venture. The Cameroonian partner obtains
authorization, but China independently manages the company.
The Chinese partner directly pays the Cameroonian partner the
fishing license and usage fees. Thus, ‘‘China’s pair-trawling
technology not only gets permission for use in Cameroonian
fishing areas, but also can be used to its fullest extent.’’ China’s
independent management of the joint venture company means
that it can ‘‘avoid interference from the Cameroonian partner.’’
Finally, China ‘‘only has to pay the Cameroonian side the annual
fishing license and usage fees,’’ and then ‘‘using pair-trawling
technology, the Chinese side can obtain the biggest profit.’’ The
article ends with a nod to ‘‘win-win cooperation.’’
This article is somewhat unusual because a scholar affiliated
with the French department of Dalian Foreign Language Univer-
sity wrote it, as opposed to someone affiliated with a fisheries-
oriented institution. While Dalian is an important fishing city and
he uses three francophone African countries as examples, it is
unclear where the author’s expertise comes from, what his
sources are, or whether the models he describes have all actually
been tested in Africa. While the publication itself is not well
known,
3
nonetheless this article was found in a key Chinese
academic research database. Regardless of whether or not the
article is representative of the majority of Chinese fishing com-
panies, it is at the very least a (remarkably candid) voice in the
public discussion over Chinese DWFs.
The article has no mention of sustainable fishing or contribu-
tion to local community development, and seems mainly con-
cerned with how to circumvent local laws (presumably aimed at
addressing resource conservation and local livelihood in the first
place) in order to maximize profit. The very name ‘‘guerrilla
fishing’’ connotes destruction, the word for ‘‘guerrilla’’ in Chinese
literally translating as ‘‘moving attack’’it certainly does not
imply long-term natural resource management, nor does the
author’s subsequent description of what ‘‘guerrilla fishing’’ is.
Pair-trawling is one of the most unsustainable forms of fishing
and the author comes across as almost gleeful at the idea of
Chinese companies trawling freely without Cameroonian inter-
ference. Mention of the local populationsfrom the Guineans too
poor to purchase fish, to Moroccan labor, to Cameroonian busi-
ness partnersseems utilitarian.
5. Discussion and conclusion
China on the whole has demonstrated a record of cooperation
with regard to sustainable fisheries management, but regulates
domestic fishing better than DWF. The 1995 ‘‘Code of Conduct
for Responsible Fisheries’’ is a non-binding agreement that lays
out guidelines for the sustainable and responsible use of fish-
eries [54]. A 2009 study scores 53 of the top fishing countries
according to Code of Conduct guidelines across nine indicators in
six evaluation fields [55]. Overall, China ranked 22 out of 53
countries, with an average score just above failing, ahead of
Spain and Russia, but behind the United States, Japan, and South
3
According to the website, www.newwestchina.com, the publication is run
by the Shaanxi Provincial Propaganda Department and the Shaanxi Academy of
Social Sciences with the mission of advocating for the development of western
China.
T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108106
Korea. On an indicator comparing intentions and actions, China
scored passing on intentions but failing on actions, indicating
an enforcement problem. The study on China that informed
this report noted that Chinese domestic fishing is better regu-
lated than DWF [56]. China scored more poorly on important
indicators for international fishingmeasures of illegal, unre-
ported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and so-called flags of
conveniencethan it did on domestic measures. On IUU fishing,
China ranked 44 out of 53, with a failing score. On flags of
convenience, China ranked 46 out of 53, with a failing score, but
higher than the other major DWF entities of Japan, Russia, South
Korea, Spain, and Taiwan.
Several international agreements attend to fisheries issues
that UNCLOS left unaddressed. Many of these agreements have
important implications for DWF nations. China has a mixed
record with regard to these conventions [57].
4
For example,
China has signed but not ratified 1995 ‘‘Fish Stocks Agreement’’
because it disagrees with the understandings of enforcement
authorization and use of force during inspections of fishing
vessels by authorities other than the flag state [58,59]. However,
even though China has not ratified the agreement, according to
the agreement’s guidelines China is a member of a number of
RFMOs, including the International Whaling Commission (IWC);
the international Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic
Tunas (ICCAT); the Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission (AFPC);
the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC);
the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC); and the
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
China has also signed but not ratified the 1995 ‘‘Compliance
Agreement,’’ which requires flag states to license high seas
fishing vessels; monitor vessels fishing on the high seas so that
they act in accordance with sustainable fishing practices; not
allow authorization of vessels that act in violation of conserva-
tion measures; and share relevant vessel information with the
FAO [60].
The 2001 ‘‘Plan of Action on IUU Fishing’’ is a non-binding
agreement that addresses IUU fishing [61]. The Plan was
followed in 2009 by a binding ‘‘Port State Measures Agreement,’’
which would require port states to inspect fishing vessels
and deny entry to those engaged in IUU fishing [62]. China has
not signed.
The Chinese government no longer has as much control over
Chinese companies, even state-owned enterprises, as it once did,
which makes it difficult for the government to supervise the
actions of DWF enterprises. The DWF industry prospect report
admitted that industry cooperation with the rules is much looser
now that small- and medium-sized private companies comprise
about 70 percent of the industry, as opposed to 25 years ago when
the industry was only state-owned. Because the industry is now
less organized and less skilled, the report explained, it is easier
for conflicts to develop in host countries if foreign operations
overlap with local ones. The Chinese government does not even
have much say over state-owned companiesgovernment
may appoint the leadership, but day-to-day management is up
to the leaders.
China faces capacity challenges in terms of resources
and education. On December 22, 2010, the Chinese govern-
ment announced that it would be dispatching state observers
to monitor DWF operations, which ‘‘is necessary for the govern-
ment’s implementation of international agreements and con-
ventions yand plays an important role in maintaining
international fishing rights and building an image of a respon-
sible fishing country’’ [63]. But Chinese fishing companies
struggle to keep accurate logbooks and observer data, properly
identify bycatch and properly attribute catch to the correct
country of origin. The companies also lack language ability. In
one report that detailed fish processing and traceability in China,
the author identified several weaknesses in the supply chain that
made it difficult to identify origins of the catch that feed China’s
fish processing industry, much of the fish undoubtedly coming
from IUU fishing [64]. Importantly, developed countries are
complicit in this system of trade and processing because most
of the final products (the majority being high-end fish such as
salmon, whitefish and tuna) end up on European, American, and
Japanese markets.
Developed countries play a role in shaping Chinese behavior
in both desirable and less than desirable ways. While Chinese
analysts largely accept international norms and laws on
fisheries, at the same time they also observe carefully how
developed countries deal with the same norms and laws in
practice. China pays close attention to the level of technology
and fishing methods used by developed countries and strives
to be similarly competitive in its own fishing methods. More-
over, great demand in developed countries for products from
unsustainable fisheries is a driver of the expansion of the
Chinese DWF industry. Fisheries are a ‘‘weakest link’’ type of
collective action conundrum, which means that unless all
participants cooperate to manage the resource sustainably, the
collective good will not be provided [65]. Thus if the behavior of
developed countries belies their rhetoric of sustainability, China
will not have any reason to believe it should not act in a similar
fashion.
In terms of policy considerations, promoting consumer aware-
ness and education about sustainable fishing is important both in
China and developed countries. In China, even though many
government documents allude to sustainable fishing, in many
cases it does not seem like these documents actually internalize
environmental awareness but rather mention sustainable fishing
because it is politically correct to do so. Chinese stakeholders
additionally lack scientific information about sustainability. Even
though environmental awareness is more substantial in devel-
oped countries, consumers there are not making sustainable
seafood choices. Improving consumer- and producer-based pro-
grams and creating better traceability systems would help
address this problem. Importing countries can also ratify the Port
State Measures Agreement domestically to prevent contributing
to IUU fishing. Finally, developed countries should continue to
strengthen governance abroad, particularly in developing coun-
tries like in West Africa.
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T.G. Mallory / Marine Policy 38 (2013) 99–108108
... The Chinese DWF industry started in 1985. To effectively address rising unemployment due to declining domestic fisheries resources, Beijing promoted DWF, in addition to aquaculture (Mallory 2013, Crona et al. 2020). Beijing's other fundamental interest in developing the DWF industry was to enhance food security (Crona et al. 2020). ...
... Although the ownership of the DWF industry changed from SOEs to a mix of state and private entities, 4 implying that Beijing has less control over its activities than at the beginning of the DWF industry (Mallory 2013), Beijing still retains some capacity to direct the DWF fleet. The Chinese state has more control over its DWF industry for geopolitical purposes than other DWF countries, in part because of this history of state ownership. ...
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As a significant actor in global governance, China has become increasingly active in addressing global environmental challenges. However, Chinese fishing practices do not conform with its policies. How do we understand China's apparently incoherent stance? Using the case of illegal, unreported, and unre-gulated (IUU) fishing governance, we explore why China shifted its approach from reluctance to engagement while still allowing the Chinese fleet's IUU fishing activities to some extent. We find that China safeguards its self-interest by shaping domestic and international rules on anti-IUU fishing while pursuing means of legitimising its actions and intangible aspects of power in the oceans. Our findings have far-reaching implications. First, China's notion of environmental responsibility is likely to remain within the scope of its interests and what China can control. Second, China's global environmental approach can be understood as the pursuit of intangible aspects of great power status in addition to its tangible interests.
... Till now, China produces more than one-third of the global fish supply (Cao et al, 2015;Wang et al., 2019). With over-exploited domestic fisheries, intensive and high-density culture is adopted to afford high yields and profits, while resulting in the increased fish diseases and mortalities (Mallory, 2013). Therefore, antibiotics are widely used for preventing and treating these diseases (Kümmerer, 2009;Hu and Cheng, 2016). ...
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The occurrence of antibiotics and potential health risk of 300 cultured fish samples from 19 provinces in China were investigated. The levels of 28 antibiotics (15 fluoroquinolones, 4 tetracyclines, 8 macrolides and rifampin) in 8 fish species were measured through liquid chromatography electrospray tandem mass spectrometry. As a result, 10 antibiotics were detected with an overall detection frequency of 24.3%, and the individual detection frequency of antibiotics ranged from 0.33 to 16.7%. The extremely high concentrations (above 100 µg/kg) of doxycycline and erythromycin were found in the samples. Antibiotics with high detection frequency was noticed in largemouth bass (41.2%), followed by snakehead (34.4%) and bream (31.2%). Specifically, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang, Qinghai and Gansu presented high detection frequency values of more than 60%. Moreover, the highest mean concentration was observed in Shandong, and the concentration covered from 34.8 µg/kg to 410 µg/kg. Despite the high detection frequency and levels of antibiotics were found in samples, ingestion of cultured fish was not significantly related to human health risks in China, according to the calculated estimated daily intakes and hazard quotients. These results provided us the actual levels of antibiotics in cultured fish and human health risk assessment of consuming fishery products.
... One region where distant water fleets are a dominant feature of ocean use is the coast of Africa from Mauritania south to Ghana ('West Africa'). Coastal governments in this region have traditionally negotiated access agreements with flag state governments or directly licensed foreign fishing companies (Alder & Sumaila, 2004;Bonfil et al., 1998;Hammarlund & Andersson, 2019;Mallory, 2013;OECD & ECOWAS., 2008;Pauly et al., 2014). ...
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Large‐scale fishing effort in the waters of tropical and lower income countries is predominantly driven by ‘distant water fishing fleets’ often owned by companies based in a small number of countries and has been associated with a range of negative environmental and social outcomes. West Africa is an example where such fleets are a dominant feature. In the waters of Guinea‐Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana, 75% of all licensed bottom trawl vessels in 2017 either registered (‘flagged’) or largely owned in China. In this context, we examined the size and distribution of the economic outcomes from operation of these vessels in above five countries to better understand the impacts of these coastal states’ decision for allocating access to the distant water bottom trawl fleet. Based on analysis of heterogeneous sources of data, we estimate that in 2017 the China‐flagged or owned coastal bottom trawl fleets generated little to no net economic benefits in terms of resource rent for either the companies or the coastal states in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana. Significantly higher economic benefits were generated from the offshore fishery in Guinea‐Bissau (US$31 million) and Guinea (US$25–38 million), largely captured by the companies owning the China‐flagged fleet. The size and distribution of the resource rent suggest that based solely of economic measures, the five coastal states may want to better assess the terms of these access arrangements for the foreign‐flagged or owned bottom trawl fleets. The fishing companies may need to reassess the sustainability of their operations, particularly in the southern states for long‐term economic benefits.
... Consequently, domestic fleets often suffer economic loss from these agreements as increased competition reduces their CPUE (Belhabib et al., 2018(Belhabib et al., , 2019Tidd et al., 2022;White et al., 2018). Furthermore, the majority of access agreements are not recorded on publicly accessible databases, which inhibits the ability to holistic manage straddling and highly migratory target species (Belhabib et al., 2015;Mallory, 2013). Therefore, the use of AIS in these regions may provide vital insights into these data-poor fisheries. ...
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Seamounts are prominent features of the seafloor that are often located in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJs). Whilst comprehensive biological information is lacking on most of these features, they have been recognised for hosting high biodiversity across multiple trophic levels. Technological advancements have enabled greater exploitation of biological resources further offshore with increasing concern over the long‐term impacts of anthropogenic activities on vulnerable distant and deep‐sea habitats. Analysis of ex situ vessel tracking technologies such as Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) have enabled spatial patterns of fishing activity to be monitored over large geographical areas. In this study, analysis of fishing activity within 30 km of seamount summits at the global scale found that these features within the waters of the Pacific Island Group and the Mediterranean Sea were subject to the highest levels of longlining and trawling activities respectively. Fishing in proximity to seamounts is dominated by the flag states of Taiwan, China, Japan, South Korea and Spain. Furthermore, our results reveal that the majority of sea areas managed by many Regional Fishery Management Organisations (RFMOs) have experienced increased fishing activity at seamounts compared to areas in the same ocean basin without management. This study demonstrates how free web‐accessible data can be used to gain insights into remote areas where in situ research is prohibitively expensive and logistically challenging.
... Much of this emerging literature has focused on the implications of the blue economy for environmental sustainability and social equity for coastal livelihoods [1,3]. However, despite China's increasing role in global ocean use and governance [20], beyond the distant water fishery [21,22], the role of trade [23][24][25], and investments in port developments [26][27][28], comparatively little attention has focused on the role of Chinese overseas coastal and ocean investments. Chinese investors with massive capital have become interested in the Southeast Asian region as the "frontline" of the MSR (p.330) [29]. ...
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Despite growing interest in how the emerging blue economy affects coastal livelihoods, there is a lack of understanding of Chinese investment in this context. This study explores ongoing practices of Chinese maritime investment in ASEAN countries and emerging patterns of the interaction between Chinese investment and coastal livelihoods. We reviewed the literature on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to create a framework for assessing the challenges and opportunities of Chinese maritime investments under the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) as part of the BRI. Examining primary and secondary sources, we outlined Chinese maritime investment in the areas of fisheries and mariculture, and tourism, and reviewed challenges and opportunities to coastal livelihoods within our framework. While offering economic opportunities, including jobs, it has presented challenges for distributing benefits of maritime investments to local residents.
... However, an agreement was signed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Madagascar (MAEPM) one year later in 2019 that gives access to 28 Chinese vessels to both nearshore and offshore areas (Anon., 2020). While China was not the dominant DWF nation in our dataset, their interest in countries like Madagascar and other coastal African nations continues to increase as China seeks new bilateral partnerships to secure access to marine resources (Mallory, 2013). ...
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As industrial vessels continue to expand in both extractive capacity and spatial range, concerns have grown over foreign industrial fishing occurring within the marine territories of developing countries, both legally and illegally. Madagascar's status as a "least developed country", coupled with its high marine biodiversity, makes its waters particularly susceptible to fishing by distant water fishing nations (DWFNs). However, given constraints in management and research, it is unclear how foreign industrial fishing, both legal via foreign agreements and illegal, may impact local marine resources that many coastal communities depend on for food security, cultural meaning and livelihoods. We used satellite-derived fishing effort data from 2012 to 2020, via Global Fishing Watch, to analyze industrial fishing effort occurring within Madagascar's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). We documented 907,643 h of industrial fishing within the Madagascar EEZ across 277 vessels from 17 different countries. We found that Taiwanease vessels (39.8%) using drifting longlines and Malagasy (17.2% shrimp trawlers were the most prevalent. Fishing effort was highly seasonal (68% of effort between October and February) and increased with higher global fish prices and the Indian Ocean Dipole, which is a measure of regional water temperature cycles. We also found a number of instances (17.6% of the fishing effort for 170,726 total hours) of foreign fishing vessels operating close to shore and within a number of marine protected areas. These results highlight the need for increased transparency surrounding foreign fishing agreements and unauthorized fishing within the waters of developing countries. Increases in industrial fishing effort and encroachment into near-shore areas has the potential to severely threaten current sustainable fisheries management initiatives by conservation organizations and coastal communities.
... This continues to be an issue when ECS countries illegally fish within the EEZs of neighbouring countries, causing diplomatic disputes, as is the case in the SCS as well. 39 The SCS is also lacking a region-wide multilateral fisheries agreement, with many countries instead favouring bilateral agreements with other ASEAN countries. 40 Multilateral agreements are cited to be more difficult to negotiate than bilateral agreements. ...
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As part of the ongoing Oceans Asia project, commissioned by ADM Capital Foundation in 2014, this report follows the 2015 report Boom or Bust: The Future of Fish in the South China Sea. Research scientists from the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries modelled the trajectories of East and South China Sea fisheries under several climate change and fisheries management scenarios. By the 2100, both ecosystems are projected to suffer losses, or even regional extinction, in key marketable species. These outcomes are driven by the impacts of climate change, overexploitation, and the growing demand for fish-based feed by the aquaculture industry, signaling the need for immediate policy action across the region.
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As the world’s leading fish producer, exporter and consumer State, China must act decisively to eradicate national and international commerce in wild-capture species derived from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In 2019 China launched an overhaul of its 1986 Fisheries Law with a draft statute subject to the deliberation of the National People’s Congress. In this policy brief, we argue that China should not miss the opportunity but proactively align with the global paradigm shift toward responsible and sustainable fisheries management. To amend the patchy legal framework and implement the rule of law ahead, we suggest technology-enabled traceability and market-responsive solutions to help the country mitigate illicit capturing, processing, and transaction events infiltrating from bait to plate.
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The United States Marine Mammal Protection Act contains a provision that requires imported fisheries products to be captured in a manner that does not result in greater incidental mortality or serious injury of marine mammals than authorized under domestic standards. The provision has existed for many years but was implemented as a Final Rule for the first time in 2017. The Rule has the potential to provide unprecedented conservation benefits for marine mammals worldwide and will affect more than 100 harvesting nations that export fisheries products to the U.S. To understand the potential effects of the new Rule, we conducted a review of current regulatory frameworks in select exporting countries and performed an analysis of marine mammal bycatch data contributed by 23 exporting nations likely to comply with the Rule. The countries we examined fell into three broad groupings. The first group of countries has robust fisheries and marine mammal management systems and routinely collects data on marine mammal abundance and bycatch. The second group has fisheries management systems that address bycatch in general terms, but less information is available on marine mammal populations, and specific policies regarding marine mammal protection or bycatch are lacking. Fisheries management in the third group is less robust, enforcement capacity is lacking and very little, if any, data on marine mammals or bycatch are available. In general, reports of marine mammal bycatch aligned with our categorizations of exporting countries. All countries in the first group reported at least some bycatch data. In the second group, two of five countries lacked any quantitative bycatch data and in the third group, no countries reported bycatch data. We conclude that it will be challenging for the United States to issue comparability findings for many exporting countries under the conditions outlined in the Rule. Nevertheless, we expect that some countries will increase protective measures for marine mammals in attempts to meet these standards and that the Rule will have a net positive effect on the conservation status of marine mammals globally.