China funds films lionizing its distant-water fleet

A new government-financed film promoting the country’s distant-water fishing industry is casting the sector in a positive light.

The film features daily life at sea aboard two longline tuna vessels from the Jing Hai Group, which builds and operates distant-water fishing vessels under the control of three separate companies. The films will be screened by China Central TV in China and through its international affiliates, according to the Weihai propaganda bureau.

The Lu Rong Yuan Yu 267 and 268 are two of its trawlers featured in the film, titled “Hai Yang Dui Yu Ji” (meaning “Ocean Chase for Fish” in English). The movie, directed by well-known filmmaker Jing Jian Min, shows a “magnificent voyage” from Sha Wo Dao port, near the city of Rongcheng, with the vessels headed to the Indian Ocean.

The film is a follow-up to another documentary, “Da Yang Shen Chu You Yu Min: Squid Fishermen in the Depth of the Ocean,” which follows squid-fishing vessels on an extended fishing trip. The credits of both films reveal support from the Shandong Provincial Film Bureau, the provincial Ocean and Fisheries Bureau, and the Propaganda Bureau of Weihai local government, in cooperation with the government-sponsored China Distant-Water Fishing Association and the Jing Hai Group. The film production was handled by Shandong Huo Long Culture and Propaganda Co.

Unmentioned in the film is the fact that the vessels featured in “Hai Yang Dui Yu Ji” come from the same city as another vessel found guilty of illegal fishing in Ghana last year. The Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 (AF 756) was arrested by Ghanaian fisheries authorities and charged with illegal fishing in Ghana’s waters in June 2019. Lu Rong Yuan Yu 956 is operated by Rongcheng Ocean Fishery Co Ltd, based in Shandong Province, a key Chinese fisheries region. Thus far, neither it nor Gyinam Fisheries Limited, which is the locally listed owner of the ship, have paid the USD 1 million (EUR 921,000) penalty imposed by Ghana’s government for the infraction. SeafoodSource reached two Ghanaian fisheries officials, but neither was able to provide an update on where payment of the fine now stands.

A sister vessel, the Lu Rong Yuan Yu 959, which is also registered in Ghana to a different local company, Rockpoint Co. Ltd. but also operated by Rongcheng Ocean Fishery, was fined in 2015 for catching undersized fish in Ghanaian waters.

China’s distant-water fishing fleet is heavily subsidized by the national government; however, despite a push by the World Trade Organization to eliminate fishing subsidies globally, reform is well down the list of priorities as set by the latest “Number One Document” of policy priorities issued annually by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, which also governs fisheries.

According to the document, “Move forward with fishery fuel subsidy reform” is ranked in the 35th of 37 sets of the Agriculture Ministry’s policy priorities for 2020.

Photo courtesy of China Central TV


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