China’s most senior fisheries official, Yu Kangzhen, has lambasted his foreign counterparts for taking a ‘Cold War’ view of China’s international fishing ambitions.
Established fishing nations are seeking to “blockade” the development of Chinese fishing vessels overseas, Yu, the vice minister for agriculture with responsibility for fisheries, told a gathering of diplomats and officials attending the annual fishery expo in Qingdao.
China accounts for 17 percent of catches in international waters “and this is our rightful share,” Yu told his guests. In unusually blunt language, Yu told critics to “look fairly” at China’s long-distance fishing development and stop “looking through tinted glasses” while criticizing Chinese fishing in international waters.
Fishery officials in both developed and developing nations have disparaged the opaque nature of Chinese data on fish landings as well as China’s track record of secretive access deals with poorer countries.
“We produce 6.6 million tons of aquatic products in a year but only 1.8 percent of that comes from long-distance fishing,” Yu said.
China’s overseas trawlers are “old” and need modernizing, Yu said. China is a “big fishing country but not a strong fishery country,” he said.
Nonetheless, China will increase the scale of its operations in international waters, he told the assembled officials, including Canadian fishery officials and Iceland’s and Ireland’s ambassadors to China.
China’s goal is now increasing the efficiency and quality – not quantity – of its seafood production, said Yu. Likewise, Yu pledged, China will increase regulation of its fisheries to ensure operational standards are raised.