The growing presence of Chinese fishing vessels in the Pacific poses a threat to Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and tuna supremacy, says a researcher.
Brazil’s Selecting Strategic Partners (SSP) director and economist Dario Chemerinski said Ecuador was the first country to put out counter measures against Chinese illegal fishing vessels in its EEZ by issuing a zero tolerance policy on Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Chemerinski added that the China and United States of America’s continuous global dominance agenda could push them into PNG’s EEZs, undermining tuna supremacy in the region.
“Pacific Island countries supply about 50 percent of the world’s tuna and produce around US$26 billion (about K94.1 billion) worth of tuna for consumers, but only receive about 10 per cent of that value,” he said.
“Few countries process their catches, thus the money by Pacific Island countries is mostly made on the licensing.
“In contrast, Ecuador not only catches about 20 per cent of the world’s tuna but also processes it and the country’s exports contribute not less than US$1.5 billion (about K5.45 billion) a year.
But there is a common enemy, IUU fishing.
Up to one in every five wild caught fish is being illegally caught.
“China is a fisheries superpower with an over 17,000 strong distant water fleet.
“Its fleet has grown 500 percent since 2012 and it keeps increasing.
“Taking huge quantities of tuna, Chinese flagged vessels far outstrip those of any other country.”
“Pacific Island countries should learn from Ecuador.
Ecuador stood up to China and claimed their tuna supremacy and protected its Galapogos Islands, which is known for its tuna and shrimps stocks.
“The Tuna Treaty which secured funding of about US$60 million (about K218 million) a year for the next 10 years from the U.S for Pacific Island countries could help with the fight against IUU in order for the region to truly benefit from its tuna stocks and other fish.”
Chemerinski said the funds would help Pacific Island countries to improve security to counter China and its regional influence.
He added that PNG had taken the lead in building world class monitoring and surveillance infrastructures.
However, there was a gap in terms of technology.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS