China responds to IUU claims by taking diplomats on tour of fishery facilities

Foreign diplomats on a tour in Fujian, China.

Soon after NOAA released a report identifying China as one of several nations it alleges have habitually engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, Chinese officials pushed back on such claims by bringing Beijing-based diplomats on a guided tour of fishery facilities in the southeastern province of Fujian.

In combination with the report, NOAA handed China – alongside Mexico and Russia – a negative certification for failing to properly combat IUU fishing activities. The certification could lead to import bans, as well as the U.S. denying the countries’ vessels access to American ports.

The report also identified fishing vessels from China and Vanuatu as allegedly targeting and catching sharks incidentally without a sustainable regulatory framework.

Environmental groups, including ocean conservation nonprofit Oceana, applauded the report but called on the U.S. government to follow through by leveraging access to its vast market as a tool to force action against IUU activities committed by Chinese operators, who count on the U.S. as a top destination for their seafood exports.

“Oceana applauds the Biden administration for taking decisive action to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, combat forced labor, and protect marine wildlife and key species like sharks,” Oceana U.S. Vice President Beth Lowell said. “All seafood sold in the U.S. should be safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled. NOAA taking action against countries that fail to follow the rules is one essential tool in the U.S. government toolbox to improve fisheries around the world.”

Responding to this public pressure, officials from China’s agriculture and foreign ministries guided diplomats from

Photo courtesy of Fujian Foreign Affairs Department

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