China offers increased fisheries presence, IUU cooperation to Pacific island nations


    A senior Chinese official recently told a meeting of Pacific island fisheries officials that China wants to increase its fisheries presence in the region.

    During a recent meeting of the China-Pacific Island Countries Fishery Cooperation and Development Forum, held in Guangzhou, China, Ma Youxiang, the deputy minister of fisheries at China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said China stands ready to cooperate on finding solutions to problems related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, proposing the establishment of an “intergovernmental multilateral fishery consultation mechanism.”

    China wants to increase cooperation with Pacific-island nations in fishing, aquaculture, and processing, and make the forum a regular event, Ma said. He said there was “great potential” for the two sides to launch joint enterprises “on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.”

    Furthermore, China wants to cooperate with the Food and Agriculture Organisation – run by Qu Dongyu, a former colleague of Ma – through the South-South Cooperation Trust Fund to help Pacific island countries further develop their fisheries, Ma said.

    “[China wants to] deepen scientific and technological cooperation, carry out cooperation in aquaculture technology, fishery facilities and equipment, aquatic product processing and other fields, and explore the establishment of a China-Pacific Island Countries Modern Fishery Cooperation and Exchange Centre,” he said, according to local media.

    China also wants to “promote market access and free trade” for seafood from the Pacific islands and to “carry out investment cooperation in fisheries fishing, aquaculture, fishing boat repair and building, fishing port construction, aquatic product processing and cold-chain logistics, and help improve the level of infrastructure in Pacific island countries,” Ma said.

    Numerous Chinese fishing firms have a significant presence in the Pacific, including Zhuhai East Port Xing Ocean Fishing Co, which recently announced its plan to bring more seafood from Vanuatu to its new processing facility in Zhuhai.

    However, China’s goal of expanding its presence in the region has irked Australia, traditionally the major power in the area, which recently sent 100 police and soldiers to the Solomon Islands – at the latter’s request – after days of rioting in the country’s capital, Honiara. The rioting, linked to protests over the government’s growing ties to China, resulted in the burning of dozens of buildings in the city’s Chinatown.