Chinese ships involved in illegal fishing spotted near Philippines EEZ

April 10, 2023 - 9:58 AM
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Chinese-flagged fishing vessels connected to a blacklisted Chinese fishing company involved in illegal activities are spotted in the Philippine Sea as seen in this screenshot by retired U.S. Air Force officer Ray Powell, a scholar at Stanford University's Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, as seen in his April 9, 2023 tweet.

MANILA โ€” Chinese fishing vessels involved in illegal activities have recently been spotted plying near the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines for at least two months.

Raymond Powell, an air force veteran and team lead for Stanford University-based Project Myoushu which looks into grey-zone activities of China’s maritime strategy, monitored at least six vessels belonging to Pingtan Marine Enterprise.

The company was previously blacklisted on the NASDAQ stock exchange for engaging in “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing including illegal shark finning as well as human rights violations, particularly in allowing abusive working conditions.

The five longliner vessels of the fleet spotted “just outside” the Philippines’ EEZ in the Philippine Sea northeast of the main island of Luzon were similarly blacklisted.

In December 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Foreign Assets Control Office sanctioned Fu Yuan Yun 7861, 7863, 7864, 7865 and 7866, Powell noted.

“The ships are linked to the notorious Pingtan Marine Enterprise, which has been fined by Ecuador for illegal shark fishing & banned by Indonesia for running ‘torture ships,’ but subsequently received a $19-million subsidy from China’s government,” Powell added.

Powell’s report is the latest of a string of China’s grey-zone activities in maritime regions around the world, especially in the strategically vital South China Sea.

Coercive state operations considered “grey-zone” are aggressive tactics falling short of triggering armed conflict.

Late last month, well-armed Chinese Coast Guard vessels and military vessels were reported sailing near the Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands in the part of the South China Sea the Philippines holds as within its jurisdiction.