Feature Story

China takes tough stance on fishing vessel in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

On the high seas, most fisheries are managed cooperatively through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission regulates the taking of tuna and tuna like species in the Pacific Ocean through Conservation and Management Measures. AFMA works closely with our regional partners to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

In September 2016, at the request of AFMA, an Australian Border Force vessel with an AFMA officer on board intercepted the Chinese flagged longliner Yuan Da 19 as it transited the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone. The vessel was known to have operated on the high seas off the Australian east coast.

After an extensive investigation, and confirmation through DNA sampling, it was determined that the Yuan Da 19 was not recording catch of Southern Bluefin Tuna and other by-product species correctly. False reports are a serious violation under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Conservation and Management Measures. AFMA provided detailed evidence to China, and requested further investigation of the allegation.

In June 2017 the Chinese authorities advised AFMA that upon receiving the information, the vessel Yuan Da 19 was ordered to return to its home port of Dalian, China and an investigation was conducted. The Chinese authorities took the following actions:

  • Permanently disqualified the company, and the vessel owner to engage in any deep sea fishing activities.
  • Cancelled the fishing licence of all the company’s fishing vessels.
  • Permanently revoked the Captain’s Certificate for Yuan Da 19.
  • Imposed a monetary penalty equivalent to USD$300 000.
  • Prohibited the manager(s) of the company responsible for this vessel from engaging in and/or working for any business relating to distant water fishing activities.

AFMA welcomes the decisive actions taken by China as they demonstrate the importance of international cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, particularly on the High Seas. It also provides another example of how AFMA’s efforts deter these fishing activities.