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September 26, 2023

Extra-regional fishing fleets present in Indian Ocean: Navy

More than 200 Chinese fishing vessels have been monitored in the Indian Ocean in the first half of this year, according to the Indian Navy, even as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to rise beyond India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Most of the illegal activity is found in the Northern Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

IUU fishing depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, puts fishermen at disadvantage and impacts coastal communities, especially in developing countries.

Chinese fishing vessels, fishing vessels from European Union countries and other countries from outside the region were observed to be fishing in the Indian Ocean, the Navy said, in its written reply to queries from The Hindu. “The presence of extra-regional distant water fishing fleets has been monitored by Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC). Around 200-250 Chinese fishing vessels have been monitored in the Indian Ocean, with a large concentration in the Northern Indian Ocean,” said the Navy, in its written response, without giving any details of specific occurrences. “A total of 392 reported incidents of IUU fishing were monitored in 2021 compared to 379 in 2020 in the Indian Ocean.”

As reported earlier, there has been a growing incidence of Chinese deep sea fishing trawlers in the Indian Ocean in addition to an overall rise of China’s maritime presence in the region. Incidently, two Chinese research vessels which can track missile tests are also currently in the Indian Ocean region.

Chinese deep sea trawlers have been a matter of concern for countries in the region, including India, as they are operating far from the Chinese coast and impacting local marine ecology. For instance, between 2015 and 2019, on an average at least 500 Chinese deep sea trawlers were present in the IOR.

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