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Chinese companies see subsidies cancelled and permits removed for illegal fishing in West Africa

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) (http://english.Agri.gov.cn) is pulling the plug on three Chinese companies conducting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa. This demonstrates an increased intolerance by authorities towards Chinese vessels involved in IUU. The MoA has cancelled the distant water fishing certificate of the Lian Run Pelagic Fishery Company Ltd. [1] The company has had a poor record of IUU fishing for years and is facing a total shutdown of its entire distant water fishing operations involving 30 vessels in total. Also, the ministry has cancelled fuel subsidies for vessels belonging to two other major Chinese distant water fishing companies.

Last spring, vessels from all three companies were arrested in the West African region during a joint patrol between Greenpeace (www.Greenpeace.org/africa) and local fisheries inspectors. [2] Evidence of various infringements including illegal nets, shark finning and fishing without licence were handed over by Greenpeace to West African and Chinese authorities and have now helped the Chinese Ministry in combating IUU carried out by Chinese distant water fishing vessels.

 Pavel Klinckhamers, International Project Leader, West African Oceans, Greenpeace Netherlands, said:

“Fish is an essential part of the diet for millions of people in West Africa. Only when local governments and fishing nations take strong action towards fisheries management and illegal fishing in the region can these resources and important ecosystems be safeguarded for future generations.”

China is currently taking measures to restrict 2900 distant water fishing vessels' activities in their main fishing grounds. Since 2016, approximately € 90 million (700 million RMB) in subsidies for 264 fishing vessels belonging to 78 Chinese distant water fishing companies have been cancelled by the Chinese government. Three companies lost their certificates for distant water fishing, while 15 company owners and captains were blacklisted. Last year, China revised its Management Regulation on Distant Water Fishery and introduced stronger punishment measures against IUU.

Dr. Ibrahima Cisse, Greenpeace Africa Oceans Campaign Manager, said:

“African governments initiatives against IUU fishing would be more efficient if they were to establish a system for sharing information on illegal vessels operating in their waters. Also, African governments must share this information with the flag states of the vessels that are breaching regulations as well as the countries where the companies behind the vessels are situated. ”

Apart from arresting vessels in Guinean waters, Greenpeace also carried out joint patrols in Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, no information was handed over by West African countries to Chinese authorities on infringements by Chinese vessels in this region during the joint patrol. This makes it more difficult for flag states like China to act upon the wrongdoings of their vessels.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Greenpeace.

Contacts: Pavel Klinckhamers, International Project Leader West African Oceans, Greenpeace Netherlands: PKlinckh@Greenpeace.org +31 6 29001153 Christina Koll, international media requests, CKoll@Greenpeace.org, +45 28109021 Dr. Ibrahima Cisse, Ocean Campaign Manager, Greenpeace Africa, ICisse@Greenpeace.org, +221 77 099 88 42 African media requests: Bakary Coulibaly, communications officer, Greenpeace Africa, Bkouliba@Greenpeace.org , +221 773336265

Photo collection here (https://goo.gl/x2iuy3).

Notes:  1) Announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, 28 February 2018. Specifics on the Chinese companies and vessels punished for illegal fishing in West Africa: https://goo.gl/Jepaff  Two vessels (Lian Run 34 and Lian Run 47) owned by Lian Run Pelagic Fishery Company Ltd. were arrested in Guinea during a joint patrol between Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Africa and Guinean fisheries inspectors. One of the vessels was using illegal fishing nets and both of them had shark fins on board which is forbidden under Guinean law. Chinese authorities have also found out that the two vessels were fishing in Guinea without official permission to do so by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. The ministry had only handed out permission for these vessels to fish in Ghana. Considering the company was also involved in three IUU cases in 2015, the ministry decided to cancel the company's Distant Water Fisheries certificate. Besides that, a whole year of fuel subsidy for the two vessels was cancelled, and the captains are facing unspecified punishment as well.

Announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture from September 2017: The vessel Fu Yuan Yu 379 owned by the Fujian Pingtan Hengli Fishery Company Ltd was also caught during that same patrol due to a number of infringements of Guinea’s fisheries law including illegal net adjustments. This vessel also had its fuel subsidies cancelled in September 2017.

Fu Hai Yu 1111 and Fu Hai Yu 2222 owned by the company Cangzhou Bohaixinqu Fuhai had their subsidies cancelled. The vessels were caught red handed during a joint patrol between Greenpeace and Sierra Leone authorities in the spring of 2017 and arrested for carrying illegal nets, having no standard logbook onboard, and offloading catch without proper authorization. 

2) More information on the joint surveillance mission and the ships that were inspected: https://goo.gl/AhVbhV.   

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