Chinese illegal fishing causes billions of dollars of losses for developing countries

A ship, which is part of a fleet of hundreds of Chinese fishing boats, sails in international waters of the Pacific Ocean near Chile’s exclusive economic maritime zone (Photo: REUTERS) (CHILEAN NAVY/)

Most of the searches involved in the illegal fishingunreported and unregulated (IUUits acronym in Spanish) are of origin Chinese and its activity causes billions of dollars of losses for developing countriesaccording to a new study from the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC).

Specifically, the FTC report shows that more than half (54.7%) of IUU fishing is carried out by industrial and semi-industrial “Asian-flagged” vessels, in particular Chinawhile 16.1, 13.5 and 12.8% use pavilions from countries in Latin America, Africa and Europe, respectively.

The study also reveals that the top 10 companies involved in illegal fishing are responsible for almost a quarter of all reported cases: eight are from China, one is from Colombia and the other from Spain.

Ecuadorian Navy ships surround a fishing boat after detecting a Chinese-flagged fleet in the Pacific Ocean near the exclusive economic zone of the Galapagos Islands, August 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Santiago Arcos/File)
Ecuadorian Navy ships surround a fishing boat after detecting a Chinese-flagged fleet in the Pacific Ocean near the exclusive economic zone of the Galapagos Islands, August 7, 2020. (REUTERS/Santiago Arcos/file) (SANTIAGO ARCOS /)

“Illegal fishing is a massive industry that directly threatens the livelihood of millions of people in Latin America and the rest of the world, especially those who live in coastal communities in developing countries already affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of living and the impact of climate change”, Matti Kohonen, executive director of the FTC, said in a statement.

According to other research, with nearly 3,000 ships, China built in 20 years the largest fishing fleet in the world. The numerous ships of the Asian giant travel the length and breadth of the planet in search of fish, since it has exhausted its resources in its own waters.

The FTC report, which brings together eleven NGOs, states that Argentina either Africathe most affected continent, lose up to US$3.6 billion and US$11.49 billion, respectively, annually as a result of IUU.

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The document, which is entitled “Suspicious networks: discovering the companies and individuals behind illegal fishing worldwide”, indicates that the “top ten companies involved” account for almost 25% of all reported cases.


1) Pingtan Marine Enterprise. China17 boats.

two) China National Overseas Fisheries Corporation (CNFC). China16 boats.

3) Dalian Ruitaifeng Pelagic Fishery. China13 boats.

4) Qingdao Rongchang Ocean Fishery. China10 boats.

5) Fish from Colombia. Colombia10 boats.

6) Fuzhou Dongxinlong Ocean Fishing. China8 boats.

7) Rongcheng Rongyuan Fishery. China7 boats.

8) Dalian Bo Yuan Ocean Fishing. China7 boats.

9) Fujian Zhengguan Fishery Development. China6 boats.

10) Albacore SA. Spain6 boats.

Africa, the hardest hit continent

In general, global losses due to IUU fishing are estimated at up to $50 billionaccording to a study cited by the report.

Africa it loses some $11.2 billion in annual revenue from IUU fishing, while accounting for 48.9% of identified industrial and semi-industrial vessels involved in the practice, according to the FTC report. Of that total, 40% is found only in West Africa, which has become a global epicenter of IUU fishing.

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In other places, Argentina loses between USD 2 billion and USD 3.6 billion in terms of IUU catches per year, Chili estimates its losses at USD 397 million and Indonesia at USD 4 billion annually, equivalent to the country’s annual net rubber exports.

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Food insecurity and ecosystem destruction

The analysis recalls that IUU means that more than 90% of the world’s fishery resources “are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted”, according to UN estimates collected by the FTC.

(Photo: Franco Fafasuli)
A Chinese ship in the Argentine Sea (Photo: Franco Fafasuli/Infobae) (Franco Fafasuli/)

Illegal fishing is one of the main drivers of the destruction of the marine ecosystem. Furthermore, this practice “most lucrative” crime against natural resources after wood and the miningrepresents a fifth of the world’s fishery catch with a value of up to 23.5 billion dollars.

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Around the world, 820 million people depend on fishing for their livelihoods, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In some regions such as West Africa, up to a quarter of the workforce is involved in fishing. Fish consumption also accounts for a sixth of food intake. animal proteins of the world’s population, and more than half in countries like Bangladeshi, Cambodia, Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia, Sierra Leone Y Sri Lanka.

The largest declines in fish stocks are expected to occur in coastal regions that are most food insecure and most reliant on artisanal fisheries for protein.

“Total impunity”

In addition to the problems caused by the food insecuritythe report denounces that the owners of the ships continue to operate with “total impunity” thanks, among others, to “complex business structures”, which makes it difficult for the authorities to identify them and bring them to justice.

The report warns that almost no country requires information on the owners when registering vessels or requesting fishing licenses, which means that those ultimately responsible for these activities are not sanctioned, but rather fines are imposed on the captains and crew of the vessels. .

The Chinese fishing fleet can be observed through the Global Fishing Watch monitoring system
The buses continue to operate with “total impunity” thanks to “complex business structures,” according to the report.

Collection of such proprietary data would enable the enforcement of laws to combat money launderingthe tax crimes Y financialthus creating ways to address the underlying crimes and abuses related to fishing.

Suggests that fishing vessel owners should be required to report the beneficial owner when registering a vessel or applying for a license to regional fisheries management organizations, flag states and coastal states.

The report also calls for the EUthe USA Y Japanwhich together account for 55% of the seafood market, to step up their commitment to tackling IUU fishing by removing the factors that allow financial secrecy to occur in the first place, such as the use of shell companies, joint ventures and flags of convenience .

The full report:

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