China and its expansionist policies are not limited to only territorial boundaries, but, a nation of 1.4 billion population is increasingly becoming hostile to feed its population the taste of aquatic life. The voracious appetite of the Chinese for fish is fast turning the oceans and seas across the world fish-less. The red-authoritarian regime is increasingly venturing out in international waters and engaging in Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
China has demolished its aquatic life
The reason for China’s unending hunger for Marine life is pretty straight-forward. It has destroyed the aquatic ecosystem around mainland China with its disturbing and unsustainable fishing habits. According to a 2016 study undertaken by a team of international experts, China has lost “one-half of its coastal wetlands, 57% of mangroves, and 80% of coral reefs, most of which are critical spawning, nursing, or feeding grounds for fishes.
Subsequently, to gratify its population’s rising desire to eat exotic aquatic food, the Chinese fishing vessels have now resorted to catching in the high seas (meaning International Waters). By 2030, China is projected to account for 38% of the global marine catch, more than double of any other region.
Most Chinese ships are so large that they scoop up as many fish in a week as a local boat might catch in a year.
Estimates of the total size of China’s global fishing fleet vary widely. By some calculations, China has anywhere from 200,000 to 800,000 fishing boats, accounting for nearly half of the world’s fishing activity.
The Chinese government says that its distant-water fishing fleet, or those vessels that travel far from China’s coast, numbers roughly 2,600. But other research, such as this study by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), puts this number closer to 17,000.
Massive subsidies to Chinese fishing boats by Xi Jinping
According to a report in YaleEnvironment360, China’s global fishing fleet did not grow into a modern behemoth on its own. The government has robustly subsidized the industry, spending billions of yuan annually. Chinese boats can travel so far partly because of a tenfold increase in diesel fuel subsidies between 2006 and 2011 (Beijing stopped releasing statistics after 2011, according to a Greenpeace study)
As reported by TFI, recently, a whole armada of Chinese fishing boats has come precariously close to the Galapagos archipelago in Ecuador. The predominantly Chinese fishing fleet operating near the Galapagos Islands even turned off the tracking systems to prevent monitoring of their activities.
Since 2017, the Chinese fishing fleet has arrived in the summer months to the outskirts of the Galapagos protected area, attracted by marine species such as the giant squid or the hammerhead shark, the latter of which is a threatened species.
Of around 325 ships still fishing in the waters near the ecologically sensitive islands, 149 have at some point in recent months cut off communications.
Fishing boats- A tool of China’s expansionist policy
And now more than Seafood, China looks at it as an opportunity to assert itself on the seas and further for geopolitical ambitions, from East Asia to Latin America to the poles of the globe.
Earlier reported by TFI, masquerading as fishing boats, China is pushing its maritime militia into the seas to capture territories. The maritime militia of China is a paramilitary force trained by the Chinese navy to engage in “patrol, surveillance, resupply, and other missions to bolster China’s presence in contested waters.
Broadly construed, these forces are styled as the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) and operate as a Third Sea Force of China.
Even the poles of the world are not free from the Chinese clutches as Beijing is increasingly looking to foray into Antarctica to ramp up its illegal fishing operations.
While the rest of the world was cutting down on Antarctic research due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, a Chinese company- Shanghai Chonghe Marine Industry- was acquiring the largest Antarctic krill-fishing boat to be completed by the year 2023.
Krill, a tiny crustacean crucial to the Antarctic ecosystem as it forms a diet of several creatures in the region is already in danger due to increasing global demand. And now, Beijing wants more of it because Krill is used as oil and feed in China. China can irreparably hurt the Antarctic ecosystem through overfishing.
Ecuador in South America, fishermen in North Korea and The Philippines and Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia on South-China Sea have regularly raised alarms about large swathes of Chinese boating fishes encroaching their sovereign waters.
If the menace of China is not thwarted in time then it wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that the aquatic life of the entire planet lies in jeopardy. Driven by its hunger of fish and territory, Beijing is on a demented trajectory of killing everything that lies in its path.