China patrols target IUU in North Pacific

Published on
August 28, 2019

China is flexing its muscles as an enforcer of international fishery rules after moving to enlarge its Coast Guard and place it under military command.

Two vessels of the China Coast Guard are operating in the North Pacific Ocean to enforce the Convention on the Conservation and Management of the High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean (NPFC), which came into force in 2015. A Chinese military TV channel has been broadcasting footage of the vessels returning to ports in Dalian and Qingdao after 27 days of patrolling, during which they sailed a combined nearly 10,000 nautical miles. 

China is a member of the Japan-headquartered NPFC, alongside Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, the U.S., and Vanuatu. Participation in enforcement remains a delicate issue for Beijing, given the most recent list of IUU vessels published by the NPFC includes boats from Chinese ports, including the Liao Yu Yuan and the Zhou Yu, as well as a reefer, the Lu Rong Yu. 

The China Coast Guard has been overhauled and expanded in recent years. Formerly the maritime branch of the People's Armed Police (PAP) Border Security Force under the Ministry of Public Security, the Coast Guard in 2013 came under the State Oceanic Administration, a civil body under the State Council or government. In 2018, the China Coast Guard was transferred from civilian control back to the People's Armed Police under the command of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the country’s military and navy. 

Formally known as the Chinese People's Armed Police Force Coast Guard Corps (PAPCGC), the body has come into focus in recent years as an enforcer of Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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