Vietnamese vessel rammed by China enforcing over-fishing law must be condemned.
On Saturday the Vietnam Fisheries Society has condemned China’s “inhumane actions, which threatened the life and damaged the properties of Vietnamese fishermen.” It refers to an illegal fishing enforcement effort by the Chinese Coast Guard.
Nguyen Viet Thang, president of the society, knew about the ban which was clear when in 2019 he said that Chinese vessels “were ramming boats in Vietnam’s traditional fishing grounds, especially around the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Islands.
“Vietnam’s ‘traditional‘ fisheries area is within China’s economic zone and has been over-fished,” says the Chinese side.
More about methodology of enforcement and less about the discussion of the ban is what Nguyen Viet Thang seems to have in mind.
“When Chinese boats find Vietnamese boats fishing near their islands, they sink the boats without issuing warnings as they used to,” Nguyen Viet Thang claims.
Flashing the Sword
‘Flashing Sword 2020’, is what the Chinese government calls the 2020 summer fishing ban enforcement. In the past the ban has only been enforced against the Chinese fishing vessels. The new ‘sword’ mantra applies to foreign poachers.
On 20 May Hanoi announced that, “Vietnam will not comply with the summer conservation ban.”
One month later, on a Wednesday, one of its vessels was “caught with a ton of fish taken from north of the 12th parallel illegally and its navigation system complete with a record of travel coordinates are condemnation of illegal over-fishing,” say Chinese sources not authorized to speak for the government.
Conservation of natural resources including sea life, mammals, water foul and the waterways themselves is an admirable project. China is to be commended.
But ramming fishing vessels and putting at risk the families and family members those vessel crews comprise is reprehensible. The crews follow orders of their skippers as do the crews of China’s coastal law enforcement. That does not make them complicit in the event that follows such orders.
China’s standing orders need to change to only lawfully fine offenders, not imperil the crews’ lives. The banal thinking this manifests is a deep insult to the intelligence and capability of the Communist Party of China and its leader Xi Jinping which currently comprises the government in power. The year is 2020 requiring more civilized approaches than those used by Chinese gangs settling gambling debts. Some of the crews impacted have been senior citizens trying to make a living. Somebody in Beijing has lost their mind and needs to reboot.
On 10 June, some twenty-five Nautical miles southeast of China’s South China Sea administrative base on Woody Island in the Paracels, Chinese coastal patrol vessel (Chinese registry number 4006) rammed to halt a Vietnamese fishing boat that was operating illegally near Lincoln Island, and had already taken a catch of over one ton of fish.
The Vietnam side claims, “China seized the Paracel Islands from [then] South Vietnam by force in 1974,” whereas China describes the action as “an eviction of trespassers”.
Summer fishing conservation ban.
The annual summer conservation fishing ban has been in force in that region since 1 May hence China has the right of action which would include fines and seizure, but not boat ramming which is typical drug runner tactics from the Caribbean.
“Risking the lives of 16 fishermen who are not criminals but men and women who needed a pay cheque or fish to feed their families is reprehensible [paraphrased from translation],” says the Vietnam Fisheries Society.
Poach rather than protect.
“In many of the world’s fisheries, poor policies give fishermen a stronger incentive to poach rather than protect. With billions of people relying on seafood as a key protein, we must change the trajectory of crashing fish populations — or risk a global food crisis.”
China announced its annual summer fishing ban on 1 May. It forbids fishing activity in the South China Sea north of the 12th parallel.
Both vessels were taking water after China-registered vessel 4006‘s captain apparently “went berserk and rammed” the fishing vessel damaging his own which sources say was one of two involved in a chase.
The event last Wednesday according to three sources including Captain Nguyen Loc (42) from Ly Son District of Quang Ngai province who claimed that 16 of his crew abandoned the small fishing vessel, astonishingly did not take lives.
It has been a slow process getting the information out of both Vietnam and China. There has been a rumour of a legal action against the poaching especially being in violation of conservation efforts.
Fortunately no lives were lost.
The Vietnamese vessel was able to return home under its own power.
The Vietnamese skipper also says he lost a metric ton of fish which was seized by the Chinese “coastal patrol militia“, plus some navigation equipment which contained stored grid coordinates of the vessels’ recent activities.
The latter would suggest that further action on the part of the Chinese may be pending because according to some crew members, this is not the first occasion of over-fishing out-of-season.
Appearances and actions suggest a militia version of a Coast Guard Action against illegal fishing.
The Chinese government needs to explain why this vessel chased and rammed the Vietnamese vessel.
The bigger question is “why did China undertake this conservation project without regional nation support and without China having the proper resources to correctly enforce the conservation laws?”
“China’s action adduces a new set of rules for Anarchy at Sea,” says one law of the sea expert. “The strongest Survive”
Meanwhile some five navies aligned with the United States are sailing warship fleets in the area, looking for a fight, with enough destructive power to end Earth.
From the historical perspective, China possesses the islands that it claims to own in the Paracel (a.k.a. Hoang Sa) and Spratly (a.k.a. Truong Sa) archipelago.
From time to time, some of the atolls, banks, cays, islands, reefs and rocks in the trio of archipelagos in South China Sea, and maybe some of the 500+ coral reefs of the Spratly group have had some Philippines, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Vietnamese occupants. But there being Chinese living on Vancouver Island doesn’t mean China actually owns the Canadian chunk of BC that was pushed up from the ocean floor 150 million years ago by volcanic activity.
China is and has been present in the trio of archipelagos exclusively since the 15th century at least. In that time, China has been a failed state on occasion. It is not a failed state any longer and it is still the master of the atolls, banks, cays, islands, reefs and rocks in the trio of archipelagos in South China Sea which by the way, China has recently upgraded substantially, a few to the dubious distinction of being military cities.
No ownership claim by the clamouring fishing nations has ever presented an argument that made sense.
The Philippines has made valid claims about its sovereignty over its own economic zones which China outrageously claims. This conflict seems to be one of the most misunderstood issues anywhere on Earth. China’s position is not only indefensible but plainly foolish because using the same logic it uses against the Philippines, the neighbourhood nations can claim disputed rocks, banks, cays, islands, reefs using the same tactic.
“It makes no sense to most onlookers until they realize what is ever-present is greed, and a willfulness to ruin the region with over fishing and a willfulness to destroy the environment with crude attempts tearing into the seabeds for fossil fuels, oil and gas. Environmental mayhem for the sake of a few dollars in the hands of a privileged few. This will not benefit the populations of any of the countries involved,” say environmentalists with the environmental defence fund.
Risking a Global Food Crisis
These experts also say, “In many of the world’s fisheries, poor policies give fishermen a stronger incentive to poach rather than protect. With billions of people relying on seafood as a key protein, we must change the trajectory of crashing fish populations — or risk a global food crisis.”
Asians need to pay heed to the fact that their disruption of habitats is killing off but before their extinction stressing too many creatures that have nasty viral loads to shed. One of those viral loads is called SARS-CoV-2 but there are others which are nastier.
China has a point on the over fishing complaint.
Five countries make the argument that they have vigorously fished the region for centuries. It’s not necessarily true for just being said but what is clear is that ecologically, the South China sea is a piss tank of pollution and a massacre site of wild life and sea life destruction.
According to the World Wildlife Federation, “Rich fishing grounds, a potential for gas and oil deposits, and strategic location have caused many of the South China Sea islands to be claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. All five parties have occupied certain islands or reefs, and occasional clashes have occurred between Chinese and Vietnamese naval forces. Being bordered by some of the world’s most rapidly industrializing countries as well as being located inside some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, has proven detrimental to the island ecosystems in many ways. Concerns with political disputes, maximizing economic growth, and ensuring adequate energy supplies have taken precedent over preservation of the bordering nations’ common maritime environment. In effect the oceanic hub of Asia’s industrial revolution, the South China Sea islands have been and are being degraded by physical disruption of native flora and fauna, over exploitation of natural resources (guano, turtles), and environmental pollution.”
In fact it is worse than that. Vietnam, the Philippines and other fishing nations have over fished the region for far too long, claims almost every ecological and environmental agency on the planet, China, likewise. The damage in large part is irreparable say at least two environmental agencies.
Because the World Court has said in July 2016 that it will not issue any kind of decision on ownership, the matter is in a de facto sense, closed.
On July 12, 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) released a verdict on a Philippines’ arbitration request filed in respect of China and its actions in 2013. The arbitral ruling discredited a nine-dash line being used by China for the claims of nearly the entire West Philippines Sea or South China Sea including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Vietnam has established a position that conflicts with five other nations who all claim that in fact they, not China and not Vietnam own these islands.
These countries are in a frenzy to go and fish the life out of the region causing the extinction of God know how many creatures they catch and don’t want and end up killing.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry via Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokesperson has made positioning statements like: “Vietnam has sufficient historical evidence and legal grounds affirming its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in accordance with international law, therefore, any activity relating to the two archipelagos conducted without Vietnam’s permission are violations of its sovereignty.”
“Somebody or something has encouraged these nations to utter these preposterous claims,” suggests Simon Baldock, an Israeli security intelligence consultant. “Negotiating with hot air is, however, part if the Asian way. One of these countries once claimed that it owned the moon,” he added with a chuckle.
“There is an enormous body of evidence that China has owned the coral and rocks unequivocally. That some fishermen have poached in these archipelago regions changes nothing. China is there in the islands with everything from agriculture, hotels, ocean-class shipping harbours, recreational facilities and military bases.There is substantial weight to China’s ownership, far more than America’s claims over the Chagos Islands where it operates its Diego Garcia nuclear base against the order of the World Court, the entire UN General Assembly and the continent of Africa.
History is not on the American side in this matter to which the USA intrudes. America campaigns against China and sews mistrust and conflict among ASEAN nations.
“The United States commit crimes against humanity to drive out the inhabitants of Chagos in 1972,” say the former residents. And worse yet, the US operates intercontinental nuclear weapons from Diego Garcia which seriously violates Africa’s ‘nuclear free zone’.
China acts like America and Canada did in the GIUK Gap during the East/West Cold War with Russia
In the past two years China has installed sonar surveillance underwater systems with which to monitor vessels operating in the region of the Paracels. It has an incipient project in the Spratlys.
China also operates unofficially an air defence identification zone which it still has not decided to support because of the monumental cost involved in enforcement and the slight that would make to all its neighbours who would all likely be apoplectic. China has invested substantially in building alliances using Chinese diplomacy and hospitality which has worked wonderfully. But South Asian governments are corrupt as a rat colony and the Americans have bought up officials in the region like a Mafia gang or the Chinese Triad shares a ‘taste’ of the proceeds to all its friends.
According to sources in the ultra-secretive people’s army of the sea intelligence corps (sort of a literal translation from Mandarin) “China is paranoid”.
“China acts paranoid in everything it does. Eighty million Chinese died in WWII. America exploited willing Chinese soldiers in WWII as canon fodder. It’s understandable that trust for the West has escaped Beijing. It’s just plain stupid that Vietnam, coaxed by America, is putting it’s arm in the shark’s mouth,” she said.
Notwithstanding these certain background facts, China’s actions sinking Vietnamese’ and Filipino’ fishing boats are reprehensible. But so too are those nation’s refusal to comply with conservation rules. It’s a mess complete with anarchy at sea.
This conundrum is not likely to benefit the 3 billion people on Earth who rely on the sea for food.
When on 2 April, China first in recent memory attacked a Vietnamese fishing vessel, as it has previously done to Philippines’ fishermen, Hanoi said then that China had “threatened the lives and damaged the property and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen.”
Obviously this is outrageous conduct of somebody giving orders in China, raised by Hanoi, and China should have listened, instead of pursuing a course of action that makes it immanently clear China hasn’t a clue what it is doing in the South China Sea which has transferred to gangsterism.
On China’s side, it is no less true the over-fishing problem must be addressed. Regional conciliation and agreement however would be a better modus operandi than ramming simple fishermen.
Environmentalists like those comprising the Environmental Defence Fund claim “over fishing often goes hand in hand with wasteful types of commercial fishing that haul in massive amounts of unwanted fish or other animals, which are then discarded”.
The 2016 words of Dermot O’Gorman, then CEO of World Wildlife Fund Australia, were ominously foretelling of this day.
“There has never been a more urgent time for seafood businesses and fishing nations to make a commitment to sustainability. The world’s oceans are in trouble, with marine life plummeting and the people who are dependent on the sea for income and food left increasingly vulnerable. Data shows populations of fish and other marine vertebrates, including marine mammals, reptiles and birds have halved since 1970.
“Fourteen years ago when I was based with WWF in the Pacific where most of Australia’s tuna is sourced I saw first hand the stress that was being placed on the ocean ecosystems. Valuable fish stocks were declining as foreign fishing nations began eyeing the western and central Pacific’s tuna stocks as their next goldmine.
“I saw local fishermen returning at the end of each day with fewer fish to feed their families. I watched as they unloaded their diminished catches, made up mostly of juvenile fish, and it brought home to me the fact that over fishing is not just a threat to ocean biodiversity. It is as much a humanitarian issue and one with profound implications for food security as demand for seafood grows and the world’s population marches . Dermot O’Gorman, the CEO of World Wildlife Fund Australia,