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Chinese fishing fleet a security issue for Australia by David Brewster November 07,2018   |  Source: The Interpreter

China’s fishing fleet has been at the forefront of disputes in the South China Sea, and the expansion of China's fleet into the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean may soon create new security headaches for Australia.

In 2013, the decline of fish stocks in Chinese waters, together with China’s growing demand for protein, led Xi Jinping to urge his nation’s fishermen: "Build bigger ships and venture even farther into the oceans and catch bigger fish."

With some 2,500 distant waters fishing vessels, China’s heavily subsidised fishing industry is the world’s largest, and it is pushing into ever more distant waters. The World Bank estimates that China will account for some 37% of the global catch by 2030, many times that of any other country.

China is hardly the first country to exploit far-away fisheries or engage in illegal fishing, but never has it occurred on such a scale. The appearance of the Chinese fleet throughout the world is now a significant factor in the sustainability of fish stocks from Argentina to West Africa and from Somalia to Kiribati.

But despite serious and well-founded environmental concerns, this is not just about fish. The impact of Chinese fishing has important strategic consequences for Australia’s region in several ways. There is a


© Lowy Institute

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