Writing on 2 April 2013, Christopher Pala for Nature reports that Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia has led a study which uncovers massive unreported catches by China in waters off of West Africa in particular. The study was published in March 2013.
Chinese vessels are renowned for illegal fishing with multiple exposes of huge illegal shark finning having been reported off Mozambique and multiple reports of IUU vessels in South African waters.
But this study by Pauly et al indicates a level of colonialism and resource stripping not seen since ... well the days of European colonialism! This report must be taken extremely seriously by South Africa especially since our government is desperately cozying up to the Chinese within the BRICS grouping.
What is particularly concerning is that although the European Union has been criticised for its fisheries agreements (now referred to as partnerships) with African states, its agreements are publicly accessible and one is able to broadly determine the actual value of the arrangements, including catch and effort limits. With the Chinese, nothing is available. These agreements are entirely unaccessible and many doubt they even exist as bilateral agreements. In 2011, Feike was appointed by the African Union to evaluate, assess and review all African fisheries partnership and access agreements. While we were able to access all agreements with "western states" (we were even able to fisheries access agreements between Sudan and Egypt!), the agreements with China and Chinese entities were simply not available under any circumstances. This secrecy only aids corruption and rampant IUU fishing.
Here is an excerpt from the article. The full article can be accessed here.
"It is a whopper of a catch, in more ways than one: China is under-reporting its overseas fishing catch by more than an order of magnitude, according to a study1 published on 23 March. The problem is particularly acute in the rich fisheries of West Africa, where a lack of transparency in reporting is threatening efforts to evaluate the ecological health of the waters.
“We can’t assess the state of the oceans without knowing what’s being taken out of them,” says Daniel Pauly, a fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who led the study. The unreported catch is crippling the artisanal fisheries that help to feed West African populations, he says."