Chinese 'dark fleets' observed fishing off North Korea despite sanctions ban

Chinese 'dark fleets' observed fishing off North Korea despite sanctions ban

At least 900 "dark" fishing boats of Chinese origin - vessels which are not detected by public monitoring systems - poached in North Korean waters in 2017, the researchers found, with 700 doing so the following year.

The research used four satellite technologies to study illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by ships that do not appear in public monitoring systems - a so called "dark fleet" - in waters between North Korea, Japan, South Korea and Russian Federation.

The animal, whose scientific name is Todarodes pacificus, is one of the top five seafoods consumed in Japan, the report said, and South Korea's most valuable seafood product - and until the export ban was imposed it was Pyongyang's third-largest export.

"Yet, the fishing vessels identified illegally in North Korean waters:make up almost a third of the entire Chinese distant-water fishing fleet", according to Global Fishing Watch.

It added that China "consistently punished" illegal fishing, but did not confirm or deny allegations of Chinese boats fishing in North Korean waters. These technologies have never before been combined to publicly reveal the activities and estimated catches of entire fleets at this scale.

While it's not clear if North Korea could have made that much money from fishing its own waters, it now appears that Pyongyang was able to recoup some of its lost catch by selling fishing rights to foreign operators, likely Chinese ones. "That's why they're pushed to work in Russian and Japanese waters and that explains why some of North Korea's damaged vessels showed up on the beaches of Japan". Open-source intelligence NGOs and nonprofits are increasingly using these resources to analyze marine traffic in the hopes of finding or better understanding tactics used to evade sanctions. However, ships involved in illicit activity in these waters - whether moving goods at sea to avoid the prying eyes of customs officials or dredging sand - often lack proper paperwork, making them harder to track. Additionally, the waters are some of the world's most contested and poorly monitored, according to Global Fishing Watch, with boundary disputes between the Koreas, Japan, and Russian Federation preventing fisheries management and hindering national efforts due to a lack of comprehensive stock assessments. China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas are all engaged in some sort of territorial dispute with one another.

Fish stocks there have actually been decreasing drastically in current years, another significant issue that the celebrations have actually stopped working to exercise.

The new technology is proving capable of tracking previously undetectable incidences of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, according to Global Fishing Watch Research and Innovation Director David Kroodsma. "It seems to make depressing but all too familiar sense", Park composed in a blog post accompanying the study.

The study has implications for the management of fisheries and fish stocks worldwide, including in the Pacific. It has actually sapped cash and tasks from seaside neighborhoods that depend on the trade and driven a boost in piracy in locations where the fishing market cannot depend on a working coast guard, like Somalia. The study found that such large, unregulated catches are depleting squid stocks in the region, with squid populations plummeting by 80 percent and 82 percent in South Korean and Japanese waters, respectively, since 2003.

"Illegal fishing in these waters is a very serious matter in Japan", Miyahara stated.

Published on 22 July in Science Advances, the study was completed by scientists from South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the United States, using data provided by Global Fishing Watch, a partnership between Google and the advocacy groups Oceana and SkyTruth that collects fishing vessel location information collected by satellite.

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