EU concerns about IUU fishing of China’s distant water fleet

The Long-Distance Fleet (LDAC) and Market (MAC) Advisory Councils of the EU have adopted a joint advice addressing China’s global distant water fleet (DWF) activities and its implications for fisheries governance worldwide.

The statement analyses the scope and impact of the global fishing footprint of the Chinese DWF and the lack of transparency of its activities both at sea and on land, including unmonitored transshipments, the use of foreign flags by its vessels and a lack of traceability of its fishing products. It also highlights numerous documented cases of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing with links to labor and human rights abuses.

While acknowledging that progress has been made in the cooperation between the EU and China in fighting IUU fishing and in the country’s capacity to address this phenomenon, the LDAC and the MAC are concerned that the pace at which this progress being made is not commensurate with the rapid expansion of the Chinese DWF and the global impact of its vast, unsustainable, and opaque activities.

The LDAC and the MAC also note that the progress claimed by China does not seem to have fully translated into a sufficient improvement of the transparency or accountability of the operations of its DWF nor improved traceability along the supply chain. The LDAC and the MAC also remain particularly concerned with widespread human rights abuses associated with this fleet.

In this context and bearing in mind the importance of the EU as a market for Chinese seafood, the LDAC and the MAC believe that it is essential for the EU to step up its engagement with China. This should encourage the urgent adoption of improved environmental, social and labor sustainability standards. 

China should also be urged to adopt transparency measures similar to those in the EU in order to drive positive changes along the supply chain. They highlight the importance to promote a level playing field for all fishing products entering the EU market, both in terms of documentation and control, as already explained in previous pieces of advice of the LDAC and the MAC.

Photo credit: iStock/ Velvetfish

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