In a new form of maritime piracy, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to violate international law and norms on the high seas by its massive, industrial-scale, illegal fishing operations worldwide. This activity can also be seen as part of CCP China’s broader gray zone warfare against its neighbors and much of the world.
These gigantic, illegal fishing armadas have been particularly aggressive stealing fish in waters near North Korea, and now, Japanese islands.
An NBC News investigation in 2020, based on new satellite data, revealed that: “China is sending a previously invisible armada of industrial boats to illegally fish in North Korean waters, violently displacing smaller North Korean boats and spearheading a decline in once-abundant squid stocks of more than 70 percent.”
The Chinese vessels — nearly 800 in 2019 — were in apparent violation of U.N. sanctions that forbid foreign fishing in North Korean waters.
NBC News noted: “This is the largest known case of illegal fishing perpetrated by a single industrial fleet operating in another nation’s waters,” said Jaeyoon Park, a data scientist from Global Fishing Watch, a global ocean conservation nonprofit group co-founded by Google, based in Washington.
The result of CCP China’s fishing piracy? In 2020 NBC reported:
The battered wooden “ghost boats” drift through the Sea of Japan for months, their only cargo the corpses of starved North Korean fishermen whose bodies have been reduced to skeletons. Last year more than 150 of these macabre vessels washed ashore in Japan, and there have been more than 500 in the past five years.
But this massive illegal fishing operation isn’t just aimed at North Korea. According to The Japan News:
The number of Chinese fishing boats operating illegally around the Yamato Bank area, a good fishing ground off the Noto Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, has increased sharply since this spring, the Japan Coast Guard and the Fisheries Agency have found.
The number of such boats that the Fisheries Agency has warned to leave is six times greater than that of the same period last year, and the number of boats warned by the JCG is also higher than last year. Local fishermen have voiced their concerns about poor catches due to overfishing.
By May 27, the agency had warned a total of 320 Chinese fishing boats to leave the area. The agency used water cannons to drive 91 such boats away from the area.
In Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, squid fishing just started on June 6. An official of a local fisheries association said, “I think overfishing is the main reason for the recent poor catch in the Yamato Bank area, and I’m worried about this year’s catch.” ADN