Chinese bottom trawl fleet continues to exploit Ghana’s waters

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Environmental Justice Foundation
Environmental Justice Foundation

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO), has called on all nations to implement available, cost-effective measures that would give all stakeholders much greater control over their seafood supply chains.

Environmental Justice Foundation
Environmental Justice Foundation

China’s distant water fleet is rife with human rights abuses and illegal fishing, and targets endangered and protected marine life across the world’s ocean, particularly Africa.

The call was in a statement issued and signed by Mr Steve Trent, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of EJF and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Cape Coast.

It followed investigations on the global impact of illegal fishing and human rights abuses in China’s vast distant water fleet by EJF, which revealed that China’s subsidies had allowed the overcapacity fleet to exploit the waters of nations such as Ghana that needed marine resources for livelihoods and food security.

The Chinese water fleet, according to EJF, continued to harm developing countries by contributing to unsustainable levels of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in revenues, all of which threatened the livelihoods and food security of legitimate fishers and communities.

Such conditions, EJF indicated, promoted rampant illegal fishing on Ghana’s waters and as such, intensified efforts were needed to ensure the safety of Ghana’s marine resources.

During investigations, the statement said testimonies from over a hundred crew aboard 88 vessels showed that 95 percent of them reported witnessing some form of illegal fishing.

On exploitation of developing nations’ waters, the report said Chinese fleet had become a substantial presence in many developing countries and regions that had limited capacity for monitoring fishing vessels yet were heavily dependent on fishing for local food security and livelihoods.

“Africa stands out, accounting for 78.5% of the Chinese government-approved fishery projects in other countries’ waters.

“In West Africa, the Chinese bottom trawl fleet catches an estimated 2.35 million tonnes of seafood every year by some estimates, around half of China’s total distant-water catch – valued at over US$ 5 billion. Many fish populations in the area.

“Such ‘small pelagic’ fish in Ghana are heavily exploited, to the point of possible collapse, which would spell disaster for coastal communities,” the statement noted.

Mr Trent added that the state-subsidised vessels hiding behind complex onshore corporate structures, were ravaging the ocean, committing human rights abuses, and driving environmental injustices, preventing those responsible from being held accountable.

The findings highlighted the overarching failure of the Chinese government to control and regulate its distant-water fleet and revealed a wider international problem, among them was the shocking lack of transparency across the sector.

He noted that any nation importing fish caught by Chinese vessels should be demanding full transparency along the whole supply chain.

That, he indicated was the only way to be sure that consumers, do not end up eating slave-caught fish which was driving the destruction of the ocean.

By Victoria Agyemag, GNA

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