Distant-water fishing operations must become more transparent

December 16, 2019 | China Dialogue

Commercial fishing employs more than 40 million people in a global market estimated to have reached $156 billion in 2017. Despite its size and importance, the fishing industry remains shrouded in mystery, lacking crucial information about where and how much fish is being caught, vessel ownership, labour practices and how seafood moves along the supply chain.

The operation of distant-water fleets is particularly opaque, and its clandestine nature has led to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which threatens the long-term sustainability of global fisheries. This lack of transparency harms the future of the fishing industry and robs resources from millions of people who depend on healthy fisheries for their livelihoods and food security.

According to a recent Stimson Center report, China has the largest and most productive distant-water fleet, accounting for almost 40% of the global total. Given its central role in the fishing industry, China has a historic opportunity to take the lead in increasing transparency across the seafood supply chain.

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