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Argentine Forces show restraint with threatening Chinese fishing vessel

Argentina’s coast is rich in squid, hake and prawns and illegal fishing is a problem

PortandTerminal.com, March 4, 2019

Argentine forces have once again had to open fire to chase off a Chinese vessel caught fishing within Argentina’s exclusive economic zone. Warning shots only.

On Sunday morning, the Argentine Naval Prefecture (PNA) vessel Mantilla spotted the Chinese fishing vessel Hua Xiang 801 at a position about one nautical mile inside of the EEZ boundary. She had her fishing gear deployed, and when Mantilla approached she fled the scene. The Mantilla gave pursuit, and according to the PNA, the Hua Xiang attempted to collide with her, putting “the crew’s life at risk.” 

No warnings in Chinese

Despite multiple orders in Spanish and English to stop for boarding, the Hua Xiang did not halt, even after Mantilla fired warning shots with her autocannon. The fugitive vessel ultimately escaped into international waters, and Argentine authorities have asked other nations to help pursue her. 

Chinese illegal fishing in Argentina

This isn’t the first time Argentina has had to get tough against illegal Chinese fishing in its waters. In 2016, Argentina’s Coast Guard sank a Chinese fishing ship that was fishing in restricted waters off of its coast. They sank it because the Chinese fishing boat ignored warning shots and tried to ram the Argentine Coast Guard vessel.

This image published on the coastguard website showed the confrontation between the two vessels in 2016 which resulted in Argentine forces sinking the Chinese vessel

In another incident in March 2018, the Argentine Coast Guard pursued a Chinese fishing boat illegally fishing in its waters and fired warning shots. The pursuit was called off after 8 hours though when four other Chinese boats tried to ram the Argentine vessel to prevent it from capturing the illegal fishing boat.

In 2012 Argentina captured two Chinese ships that it said had been fishing illegally for squid in its exclusive economic zone. Warning shots were fired in that incident as well.

Why is China fishing in Argentina’s waters?

Photo: Alamy

Argentina’s coast is rich in squid, hake and prawns. And statistically, no one eats more seafood than China. These two facts are where the problems start.

China has the world’s largest and farthest-ranging fishing operation. They have 2,500 ships that together, spent 17 million hours of fishing in 2016.

17 million hours = 1,940 years

Most Chinese fishing happens in its own waters and those of Africa and South America where fish stocks are more plentiful.

Last year, Chinese trawlers were seized off Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau over illegal fishing.

Today’s China has the domestic demand, fishing fleet and confidence to illegally take fish out of the South Atlantic with little fear of strategic cost.

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