China has been noticeably ramping up its fishing activities and now there is a growing concern about the effects this would have in regions such as Latin America.

In fact, a look at China’s fishing activities near exclusive economic zones of Ecuador, Peru and Argentina for 2022 shows that they were four times greater compared to all other countries combined, the New York Times reported.

This pales in comparison to their fishing activities in 2021 where, the Chinese fishing fleet spent an equal amount of time, nearly 400,000 hours, fishing in the same regions.

“It is increasingly clear that Chinese commercial fishing interests are far-reaching and have massive implications for global marine fisheries,” Dr. Marla Valentine, Illegal Fishing and Transparency Campaign manager for nongovernmental organization Oceana, dedicated to the conservation of the world’s oceans, said to Diálogo in October. “Their activities off the coast of South America is just one example of how unregulated distant-water fleets can remove large amounts of marine resources in a relatively short period of time.”

China has built the world’s largest deep-sea fishing fleet with around 3,000 vessels over the past two decades.

After depleting their waters of fish, Chinese vessels have not ventured out into any ocean worldwide dwarfing the fleets of other countries fishing in their territories.

“Chinese vessels are permanently active off the coasts of South America and move seasonally. From January to April they concentrate on the coasts of Argentina and Uruguay; from May to September mainly in the waters of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile,” Valentine said. “The fleet’s objective is mainly to pursue squid stocks with jigging vessels and bottom trawlers, which also get hake, prawns, and grenadier fish.”

China vowed to trim government subsidies to fishing companies but some experts remain skeptical.

“It’s a no-brainer and it’s a welcome announcement, but it doesn’t mean any changes in reality,” Milko Schvartzman, an Argentine marine conservation expert and member of the NGO Círculo de Políticas Ambientales rued.

China fishing
This aerial photo taken on August 16, 2022 shows fishing boats heading out to sea on the first day of the fishing season in Yangjiang, in China's southern Guangdong province. Getty Images | STR/AFP

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