Chinese fleet threatens maritime resources of Chile and Argentina
Image taken on board a ship of the Argentine Naval Prefecture in 2018, during a pursuit of a Chinese vessel that was doing illegal fishing. (Photo: Argentine Naval Prefecture)
By Eduardo Szklarz / Diálogo
January 19, 2021
After preying on the marine fauna near the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, a gigantic fleet of Chinese fishing boats heads towards the South Seas, where it threatens the ecosystems of Chile and Argentina. There are about 300 industrial boats with a length of 60 to 80 meters and between 25 and 40 crew members each (known as jiggers or jiggers), who fish for squid.
“The environmental impact of these boats is terrible. They have no control over the amount of specimens they capture and the toxic waste they throw away, ”Milko Schvartzman, Argentine specialist in marine conservation and member of the NGO Círculo de Política Ambientales told Diálogo.
“The environmental impact of these boats is terrible. They have no control over the quantity of specimens they capture and the toxic waste they throw away ”, Milko Schvartzman, Argentine specialist in marine conservation and member of the NGO Circle of Environmental Policies.
After plankton, squid is the most important species in the food chain in the South Atlantic, which worries experts.
“One third of the world’s fish stocks are already in an unsustainable state. We don’t want the squid to become one more, ”César Astete, director of the fisheries campaign for the NGO Oceana Chile, told Diálogo.
Astete reports that the many Chinese boats remain in the fishing zone for a long time, some for up to two years. They are joined by ships that provide fuel, food and cargo transshipment. “This concatenation of situations is a risk for biodiversity,” added Astete.
Chinese ships also threaten the economies of the countries in the region. “They compete in the same markets without paying taxes, with subsidized fuel and slave labor,” explained Schvartzman.
According to this expert, all the crew of the Chinese ships are Indonesian, Filipino or African. Only the captains and officers are Chinese.
“The third threat of the Chinese fleet is to the sovereignty of the countries. When there is no surveillance or military presence in the area, these boats carry out illegal fishing [in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ)], ”said Schvartzman. “And the Chinese state, even knowing that they do it, does not sanction them.”
In May 2020, the Argentine Navy captured the Chinese vessel Hong Pu 16, which was fishing in the EEZ with more than 300 tons of fish in wells. In April, the Argentine Naval Prefecture detected the Chinese vessel Lu Rong Yuan Yu 668, fishing some 390 kilometers offshore from the city of Puerto Madryn.
Chinese vessels often go undetected because they turn off the automatic identification system (AIS). “Of the 300 Chinese ships, there are times when only 140 or 200 transmit the signal. Some that never transmit. Others broadcast and then turn off the AIS for a week, ”said Schvartzman.
Some ships manipulate the GPS and send dummy signals. “I detected the case of a ship that, while it was in the Galapagos area, transmitted its AIS in a position at the South Pole,” said Schvartzman.
Read the original coverage at: https://dialogo-americas.com/es/articles/flota-china-amenaza-recursos-maritimos-de-chile-y-argentina/
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