In an official statement released by the Argentine authorities last week it is claimed that the country’s coastguard opened fire on the Chinese fishing vessel after it was discovered fishing illegally in a restricted area.
The incident occurred after several warnings had been issued by the coastguard and ignored by the Chinese vessel. Repeated demands in both Spanish and English were made by the coastguard requesting that they be allowed to board the vessel, but these were not responded to and the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 is reported to have then switched off its fishing lights and tried to flee from the Argentinian exclusive economic zone in to international waters.
The coastguard pursued the boat for several hours and fired warning shots at the Chinese trawler which is then said to have attempted to ram the Argentine coastguard patrol boat. It was at this point that the coastguard opened fire, to prevent risk to its crew, resulting in the sinking of the Chinese vessel.
All Crew Survived
All 32 of the Chinese crew survived the incident. Four of the crew members, including the captain, were rescued by Argentine forces, and the remaining 28 Chinese fishermen were picked up by a Chinese boat that was fishing nearby.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassy in Buenos Aires have said in a statement that they expressed “serious concern” over the incident “urging Argentina to carry out a full investigation immediately” and to report their findings to China. They are also asking that Argentinian authorities protect the safety and legal rights of Chinese fishermen and to put in place measures to make sure that similar incidents do not happen in future.
The diplomatic relationship between the two countries had been improving in recent years, with the Chinese president visiting Argentina in 2014 stating that the relationship between the two nations was set to reach “new horizons” with Argentine exports to China being worth some $5.5 billion and a deal signed last year for the construction of two nuclear power plants in the South American superpower by the Chinese.
However, this is not the first time that Chinese trawlers have been encountered fishing illegally in the South Atlantic seas off the coast of Argentina. A similar incident occurred in December 2012 when two Chinese boats were captured by the Argentine coast guard after illegally caught several tonnes of squid in the Argentine exclusive economic zone.
Globalisation of Fishing
China has the largest long-distance fishing fleet in the world with over 2000 vessels, which helps it to meet the country’s massive demand for seafood, but many Chinese owned boats have been reportedly engaged in illegal fishing activities around the globe. This problem isn’t just a Chinese one though. Illegal fishing is a widespread problem with many countries having been exposed fishing in the territorial waters of other nations.
Argentina’s foreign ministry is currently investigating the incident surrounding the sinking of the Chinese vessel. A growing global population is placing huge demand on the sea’s fish resources and the efforts of some countries to control fishing is ruined by others who infringe on their territory.
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