Chinese fishing company with past IUU infractions sends vessels to Guinea

The Lian Run 23 fishing near Conakry, Guinea in 2006.

Chinese fishing company Dalian Ruitaifeng is sending three recently refurbished vessels to Guinea as part of an expansion of its operations in the West African nation.

Dalian Ruitaifeng launched the three vessels and what the company described as a “new dragnet trawler with onboard freezers.” The company told Chinese state-owned media that the vessels would fish for cuttlefish, horse mackerel, and hairtail, as well as grouper for both the Chinese and Guinean markets.

In 2019, the firm, then called Dalian Lianrun Ocean Fishery Co., but often shortened to Dalian Lianrun, changed its name to Dalian Ruitaifeng Pelagic Fishery Co. and renamed its fleet of vessels from Lian Run to Rui Tai Feng. Rui Tai Feng vessels 801, 905, and 906, formerly Lian Run 29, 43, and 44, respectively, received licenses to fish in Guinea under the Chinese flag in March 2020, according to research by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO that aims to protect and maintain sustainable habitats and environments.

In February 2018, however, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs suspended the distant-water fisheries certificate of Dalian Lianrun following repeated illegal fishing infringements in West Africa, including using illegal nets and fishing for species outside of its license conditions – specifically for sharks. Lianrun had licenses to fish in Ghanaian waters under the Ghanaian flag.

“The company’s vessels, Lian Run 43 and 44, continued to operate under the Ghanaian flag, receiving licenses to fish in Ghana from 1 January to 30 June 2018,” according to research published last year by EJF. “In 2019, the owners of Lian Run reportedly reflagged the vessel to China and relocated the vessel to Guinea without alerting the Ghana Maritime Authority and Fisheries Commission to delete the vessel from the fleet register."

EJF CEO and Founder Steve Trent told SeafoodSource that the growing prevalence of foreign-owned and Chinese-flagged industrial fishing vessels in Guinea has “significant implications” and could undermine Guinea’s efforts to improve fisheries governance.

Since 2013, the country has taken a number of steps to improve its ability to control vessels fishing in its waters, including the opening of a fisheries monitoring center and the introduction of a constantly operating vessel monitoring system (VMS). According to Trent, Guinea also introduced at-sea patrols and aerial surveillance in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On broader fisheries governance, the country revised its legal and regulatory fisheries framework, “particularly including the introduction of stiff penalties for infringements,” Trent said. “It also ratified important international agreements such as the [Port State Measures Agreement] and developed a national plan of action on IUU fishing.”

In 2019, Guinean authorities impounded

Photo courtesy of Greenpeace/Pierre Gleizes

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