Posts Tagged ‘fish stocks’

Chinese fishing deal makes waves ahead of Madagascar polls — “If this carries on, we’ll be eating sand”

December 13, 2018

“There’s simply not enough fish to feed everyone.  So why send them to China?”

The sun glistens on waves lapping against wooden fishing boats as their sails ripple in the breeze coming off the Indian Ocean.

Nearby a young man with a diving mask bobs below the water’s surface armed with a stick to lure his catch into a net while also trying to snare fish on a nylon line.

In Anakao, a traditional fishing community in southwest Madagascar, the community known as Vezo — which means “rowing strength” — has fished for generations.

But the arrival last year of six fishing trawlers off the coast, and a subsequent deal between a local private body that promotes Madagascan businesses and Chinese investors, have stirred anger in recent months, at a time when the country is going to the polls in presidential elections.

“If this carries on, we’ll be eating sand,” warned Fulgence, a fisherman in Anakao.

He does not dare venture out when the six Chinese vessels are at sea, claiming that a number of his nets have been cut.

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– ‘The Chinese take everything’ –

“The Chinese take everything and chuck the little dead fish back into the sea,” complained Marco Randrianjaka, echoing the grievances of many of his fellow seafarers.

“Without the small ones, they won’t be able to reproduce down the line.”

But China’s Mapro South, the company responsible for the six new vessels, denies the claims.

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Their nets’ mesh is large enough to allow the smaller fish to escape, said Lifujun Li, a company manager in Toliara, a port town one hour away from Anakao by boat.

Against the backdrop of an already tense situation both locally and nationally due to the presidential poll, a new fisheries deal with Chinese investors has provoked an outcry on the island where malnutrition is widespread.

The deal, which was not publicised, is understood to go much further than the six Chinese-funded trawlers already in operation.

The $2.7-billion (2.4-billion-euro) agreement includes, among other things, 330 modern, refrigerated vessels of up to 14 metres long (up to 46 feet) being delivered to Madagascan fishermen.

They will “replace the traditional wooden boats”, according to Madagascar’s Development and Business Promotion Agency (AMDP), which negotiated the deal with China’s Taihe consortium.

The ships, supplied to local fishermen free of charge, will help them “increase their production capacity”, according to an AMDP official, who declined to be named.

Location of  Madagascar  (dark blue) – in Africa  (light blue & dark grey) – in the African Union  (light blue)


– ‘Pre-judging’? –

A proportion of fish caught by those participating in the scheme will be sold locally. The Chinese will buy the “surplus” at a favourable but undisclosed price, said the AMDP official.

According to him, the deal will promote “local development” in Madagascar — one of the world’s poorest countries, which is also blighted by corruption.

The official blamed the outcry on the fishing community “pre-judging” the project — something they deny.

The 330 new boats will eventually produce 130,000 tonnes of fish annually, according to the AMDP — roughly the equivalent of the country’s entire production in 2016.

“But we already face over-fishing in some regions,” said Rijasoa Fanazava, a fisheries expert at the World Wildlife Fund in Madagascar.

Fanazava believes that tens of thousands of fishermen risk losing their livelihoods if stocks are diminished.

“How will they live?” he said.

A recent round table that brought together the AMDP and 30 affected organisations failed to allay their fears.

“The only impact assessments given by the AMDP have been economic in nature, we haven’t had anything on the environmental and social impacts of the project,” said not-for-profit groups in a joint statement.

The AMDP stresses that the deal provides for an environmental initiative to protect the sustainability of marine life off Madagascar’s coasts.

Campaign groups are “unconvinced” that the deal will truly create economic opportunities for local fishermen and reiterated their opposition to the scheme.

– ‘Not at all legal’ –

Even Fishing Minister Augustin Andriamananoro has his doubts. He claims he was not even briefed on the deal.

It was signed on the sidelines of a China-Africa cooperation summit in Beijing in September attended by Hery Rajaonarimampianina, just days before his resignation as president to contest the polls.

He was knocked out in the first-round vote last month.

“(The AMDP) can’t sell treasures which aren’t even theirs,” said Andriamananoro.

“The deal isn’t at all legal” and shouldn’t be executed, added the minister, an ally of Andry Rajoelina, who will stand in the December 19 second-round vote against Marc Ravalomanana.

But the AMDP, though reluctant to comment publicly, is adamant the project will go ahead.

“(The deal) is between two private companies from the two countries — it’s not an agreement between states,” insisted the anonymous AMDP official.

The first Chinese-made trawlers are due to be delivered within a year.

But in Anakao, the fishing community fears “unfair competition”.

“We’re already catching less and less,” said Mananaina. “Before, it was more than 20 kilogrammes (44 pounds) a day — now just 10.”

“There’s simply not enough fish to feed everyone,” added Fulgence. “So why send them to China?”



South China Sea: Albert del Rosario, Justice Antonio Carpio do not ‘fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,’ Philippine Government says

July 12, 2018

Does Philippine sovereignty matter? Is it meaningless?

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario and other individuals do not ‘fully comprehend the nature of arbitration’

FRIENDSHIP FORWARD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Malacañang file photo

FRIENDSHIP FORWARD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines under the Duterte administration continues to defend its rights over the West Philippine Sea even as he said there is no need to enforce the landmark ruling won by the country against China.

“I’m not sure what they mean by enforcing an arbitral decision because an arbitral decision is binding on parties thereto,” said Roque on Thursday, July 12, the 2nd anniversary of the historic Hague ruling.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urge the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China's bombers in the South China Sea. File photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario

Asked by Rappler if he means there is no need for enforcement, Roque said in a message: “Who will enforce? It’s self-executory as it’s binding on parties thereto.”

“We continue to assert our sovereignty and sovereign rights, but we have decided to move on on issues that are non-controversial,” he said in a press conference.

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He questioned the call of former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario for the Duterte administration to enforce the ruling.

“I don’t know what makes him an authority to give that view…. It clearly underscores the fact that some individuals, including the former secretary of foreign affairs, [do] not fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,” said Roque. (READ: How to enforce Hague ruling? PH lead counsel explains)

It was under Del Rosario’s watch as Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief when the Philippines took China to court.

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Roque, asked why he thinks Del Rosario does not understand the nature of arbitration, said: “Because he’s calling for enforcement when clearly arbitration is binding…. Whether or not China will acknowledge it, China is bound by it because that is the nature of arbitration.”

However, China’s refusal to acknowledge the ruling, coupled with the Philippines’ decision to shelve it for later, has made the ruling ineffective in changing the situation on the ground.

Despite the ruling, China continues its military buildup in the West Philippine Sea and harassment of Filipino fishermen in areas declared by the decision as common fishing grounds. –


Will the South China Sea Become a Chinese Lake?

July 4, 2018

Twelve days at sea on a French warship provide occasion to ponder what lies ahead for the disputed waterway.

Published on: July 3, 2018
Jonas Parello-Plesner is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

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Chinese military assets in the South China Sea. 


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Vietnamese Anti-China protesters hold placards which read ‘The country will not forget – Johnson South Reef – 14th March, 1988’ during a gathering to mark the 28th anniversary of the Spratly Islands clashes between Vietnam and China at a public park in Hanoi March 14, 2016.


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China places coast guard under military command

July 2, 2018
Starting July 1, the Chinese Coast Guard will be under direct leadership of the Central Military Commission.

Xinhua/Zhang Guojun


( – July 2, 2018 – 11:55am

MANILA, Philippines — In a move seen as a warning to other countries, China has placed its coast guard under the country’s army.

Starting July 1, the leadership of the Chinese coast guard will be transferred from the State Oceanic Administration to China’s Central Military Commission.

Chinese state-run Xinhua reported that a marine police force under the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force would function as a law enforcement body while securing the country’s maritime rights.

China’s coast guard would be in charge of fighting criminal maritime activities, search and rescue, law enforcement, environmental protection, fishery management and anti-smuggling efforts.

China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, approved this decision a few weeks ago.

Under this new mandate, the Chinese coast guard would be more involved in military drills with the People’s Liberation Army, according to Chinese newspaper Global Times.

Military expert Song Shongping told Global Times that the Chinese coast guard ships would be armed with more powerful small diameter cannons.

Under the Chinese military’s command, coast guard personnel will also be authorized to carry firearms, Song said.

Song, however, said the Chinese coast guard would not be a threat as long as other countries would not “provoke” Beijing’s sovereignty and maritime rights.

The Chinese coast guard recently drew ire following reports of seizing Filipino fishermen’s catch in the South China Sea.

Local fishermen revealed that some Chinese coast guard personnel have been taking fish from their boats in exchange of noodles, cigarette and water. The so-called barter exchange between Chinese coast guard personnel and Filipino fishermen has been going on for a while when GMA News released its report on the incident.

The Chinese government vowed “serious investigation” into the incident and assured the Philippines that there would be punishment for erring coast guard personnel. — Patricia Lourdes Viray


China to Militarize Coast Guard amid Maritime Rivalry from US, Southeast Asia — Mobilizing Fishermen

June 28, 2018

China’s Coast Guard has been more and more of a military-type force for years….

China’s fishermen increasingly operate in a military role….

By Ralph Jennings

A China Coast Guard vessel patrols at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 6, 2017.
A China Coast Guard vessel patrols at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 6, 2017.

Beijing is placing its coast guard under military command to warn foreign nations, including the United States, against interfering with its control over the disputed South China Sea, experts say.This change, effective July 1, follows the passage of U.S. navy vessels through the sea seven times since U.S. President Donald Trump took office last year and a B-52 fighter plane flyover by the United States earlier this month.

The coast guard’s new command fits Chinese President Xi Jinping’s effort since 2012 to improve the reach and capability of the armed forces, scholars believe.

Reassignment of the coast guard from the State Oceanic Administration to the People’s Armed Police will “enable it to play a bigger role in emergencies and crises including war,” the Communist Party-run news website Global Times said Monday.

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“While certainly increasing their presence, also it’s to send a message that they’re determined to protect their territorial integrity,” said Andrew Yang, secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taiwan. “Certainly the U.S. will pay attention to it.”

Stronger coast guard under military control

China will establish a “marine police corps” under the armed police to enforce laws and protect China’s maritime “rights” following a decision June 22, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The government’s Central Military Commission will oversee the new coast guard, letting the fleet get involved more easily in naval exercises, the Global Times said, citing a Chinese military expert.

Xi told the army last year to “enhance its capability to win wars,” Xinhua said. The Chinese navy had been venturing last year past its traditional zone along the Chinese coasts toward the high seas.

The coast guard’s 16,300 personnel and 164 cutters will probably do more joint patrols with the navy, experts say. The two units already patrolled the sea’s Paracel Islands together last month, news media in Asia reported last month.

Warnings to Southeast Asia, United States

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all compete with China’s claims in the sea, which is prized for fisheries, oil and natural gas. China cites historical records to support its claim to about 90 percent of it.

China has built military installations on several islets in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer tropical sea, irritating the other claimants.

The coast guard as a military unit “strengthens the perception and reality of ‘militarization’” of the sea, said Yun Sun, East Asia Program senior associate at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington.

Chinese coast guard vessels, sometimes sent to protect fishing fleets, have ranged as far into the sea as Indonesia, which protested over an incident in 2016.

Washington regards the sea as an international waterway. The U.S. government sends naval vessels as “freedom of navigation operations.”

“The enhanced cooperation indicates the strengthening of Chinese capability to deter or harass U.S. freedom of navigation operations,” Sun said.

Heightened vigilance

China’s coast guard will “not pose a threat” to other countries if “they don’t provoke China’s sovereignty and maritime rights,” the Global Times said, citing the military expert.

But military command of the Chinese coast guard will put other claimants, as well as the United States and its allies, more on guard, other analysts say.

The Southeast Asian states lack China’s firepower, but Vietnam and the Philippines have turned in the past to the United States for defense.

The other maritime claimants and Indonesia may take a stauncher “posture” toward the military-managed coast guard, Koh said.

“This more muscular posture of putting the navy and the coast guard together is a way to tell the other claimants that you don’t trifle with us,” said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

When fishing or coast guard vessels from other countries run into China’s coast guard now, they don’t expect it to be “heavily armed,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea think tank in Taipei. They would see the fleet differently under central military command, he said.

“Other countries may have a different view of what the China coast guard represents, and that could definitely make people nervous in those unanticipated encounters, and maybe other countries will see this development as something they need to respond to in terms of restructuring their own coast guards,” Spangler said.


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Chinese J-11 Fighters Deployed To Woody Island In South China Sea

China J-11 Flanker fighters operating from Woody Island located in the northern portion of the South China Sea.

US imported more seafood in 2017 than any prior year

June 25, 2018

The United States imported more seafood last year than at any point in its history, and the nation’s trade deficit in the sector is growing, federal data show.

The U.S. imported more than 6 billion pounds of seafood valued at more than $21.5 billion in 2017, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees American fisheries. The country exported more than 3.6 billion pounds valued at about $6 billion.

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The widening gap comes at a time when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who heads the federal agency that includes NOAA, has identified reducing the deficit as a priority for the government.

The U.S. is home to major commercial fisheries for species such as Pacific salmon, New England lobster and Alaska pollock, but it imports more than 90 percent of the seafood the public consumes.

Ross and others in U.S. fisheries are looking at new strategies to cut the deficit, including increasing the amount of aquaculture-based farming, said Jennie Lyons, a NOAA spokeswoman.

The U.S. trades in seafood with countries all over the world, and the countries it buys the most from include Canada, China and Chile. Major buyers of U.S. seafood include China, Japan and South Korea.

While U.S. fishermen would love to grow commercial fisheries, it’s important to note that domestic and imported seafood are both important parts of the supply chain and support thousands of American jobs, said Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute.

He added that the trade imbalance isn’t caused by a lack of fish to catch in U.S. waters, as NOAA announced this spring the number of overfished fish stocks in the country is at an all-time low.

“Our stocks are fished to the maximum sustainable yield. In order to feed Americans, and to feed the raw materials into the jobs that are needed, we have to get it from overseas,” Gibbons said.

Some of the seafood items that American consumers are especially fond of, including tuna, salmon and shrimp, are heavily dependent on foreign imports to make it to U.S. markets and restaurants. Some species, such as lobsters, are caught in the U.S., exported to other countries that have greater processing capacity, and return to the U.S. as imports.

In this way, the U.S. and its trade partners depend on each other to satisfy worldwide demand for seafood products, said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

“Our relationship is vital, and it is symbiotic,” he said.

There are also some fish the U.S. has imported more heavily in recent years because domestic stocks have dried up. One example is Atlantic cod, which was once the subject of a huge fishery in New England. That industry has collapsed due to overfishing and environmental changes.

The U.S. imported more than a half billion dollars’ worth of cod in 2017. That number has grown by more than $100 million since 2014, with fish that once came from Massachusetts now coming from places like Iceland and Norway.

Exports of other species, such as lobster, are up because of emerging markets in Asia, said Mike Tourkistas, founder of East Coast Seafood in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Lobster exports have grown by more than $250 million since 2007, driven by growth in China.

“With lobster, we know that we have had some very big years,” Tourkistas said.

The Associated Press

Philippines demands China stop taking fishermen’s catch — “With China here, there is only China’s law.”

June 11, 2018

The Philippines on Monday demanded that China stop confiscating the catch of Filipino fishermen in the disputed South China Sea, calling the practice “unacceptable”.

The remarks by President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman were a rare public rebuke from Manila, which has taken a non-confrontational approach with Beijing over the resource-rich waterway.

© AFP/File | Filipino fishermen say the Chinese coast guard is seizing their catch at the disputed Scarborough Shoal

China controls several reefs in the sea including Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing seized from Manila in 2012 and is just 230 kilometres (143 miles) from the main Philippine island of Luzon.

China claims almost the entire sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, despite competing partial claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque on Monday confirmed a report that Chinese Coast Guard personnel seized the catch of Filipino fishermen in the shoal in May in violation of an agreement between the two nations allowing Filipinos to fish there.

“We are demanding that the Chinese take steps to stop the coast guard from doing these acts,” Roque told reporters.

“That is unacceptable. That is why we informed the Chinese we will not allow fish to be taken from our countrymen.”

The Chinese foreign ministry said it was investigating the reports and authorities will “seriously” deal with them if they are confirmed.

“Out of friendship, China has made proper arrangements for Filipino fishermen,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

“The Chinese coast guard is monitoring relevant waters to ensure peace and order in the area, and also offers humanitarian assistance to the Philippines fishermen,” Geng said.

“The Chinese coast guard always abides by the law.”

Duterte’s administration rejects criticism that its response to Chinese activities in the hotly contested waters has been weak.

China in May reportedly deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on the Spratly Islands and flew nuclear-capable bombers to a base in another disputed part of the sea.

Duterte’s aides have said previously the Philippines is taking “all diplomatic action” to protect its claims while insisting it would not anger China by engaging in “megaphone diplomacy”.

Manila, which has pursued trade deals and investment from China, instead holds regular talks with Beijing on the dispute.

On Monday Roque refused to describe the latest incident as harassment, adding the Chinese Coast Guard gave the Filipino fishermen noodles, cigarettes and water in exchange for their catch.

The fishermen, who appeared with Roque in the news briefing, said they were powerless to stop repeated seizures by the Chinese.

“The (Chinese coast guard personnel) board our boats, look at where we store the fish and take the best ones. We cannot do anything because their huge vessels are there,” said Romel Cejuela, one of the fishermen.


Chinese “Taking Fish” From Philippine Fishermen — Local fishermen called on the Philippine government to help

June 11, 2018
Filipino fishermen ask gov’t to act on ‘barter’ with Chinese coast guard

Fisherman Romel Cejuela says the China has control over Scarborough Shoal. PH Coast Guard is nowhere to be seen. But Cejuela belies reports of harassment. He says they often barter – noodles, cigarettes and water in exchange for fish.

Patricia Lourdes Viray ( – June 11, 2018 – 3:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Local fishermen called on the Philippine government to address the fish-taking incident with Chinese coast guard personnel at Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday confirmed that the Chinese coast guard has been conducting a sort of barter trade with Filipino fishermen in the traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales.

Speaking in a Malacañang press briefing, fisherman Romel Cejuela narrated how the Chinese have been boarding their boats and taking away their catch from Scarborough Shoal.

“Gusto lang namin ipaabot sa ating gobyerno limitahan sila na ano lalapit doon sa amin ‘yung maghihingi ng isda (We just want to ask the government to limit them from asking fish from us),” Cejuala told reporters.

The fisherman clarified there was no harassment but said the Chinese coast guard personnel were insistent on taking their fish from them.

“Linawin lang namin na wala naman ginawang pangha-harass sa amin kumbaga ano lang parang mapilit silang kukuha ng isda kasi hindi naman kami magkaintindihan ‘yung ano lang doon ‘fish’ ‘yun lang tapos aakyat sila sa amin (We will just clarify that there was no harassment, they were just insistent to take our fish but because we cannot understand each other they just say ‘fish’ and then they will go aboard our boat),” Cejuela said.

“Titignan nila ‘yung mga lalagyan namin, titignan nila yung magagandang isda. Wala naman kami magagawa kasi nakikisama lang muna kami (They will look at our container, they will look at the best fish. We can’t do anything because we were just trying to get along with them),” he added.

Cejuela compared themselves to a “crushed tin can” if they stand up against the Chinese.

Sometimes, he said, the Chinese would give noodles, cigarettes and water to the Filipino fishermen in exchange for their best catch.

The fisherman expressed concern that the Chinese may once again block them from entering the shoal if a misunderstanding would ensue between the Philippines and China over the incident.

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“Hindi naman siguro ‘yun totally harassment. Nirereklamo lang namin na siguro na mag-usap sila na anuhin ‘yung coast guard nila na maghintay lang sila kung gusto nila maghingi ng isda ‘wag sila aakyat sa bangka namin at maghalungkat pipiliin pa nila ‘yung magagandang isda (That’s not totally harassment. We’re just asking them to talk to the Chinese coast guard, instruct them to wait for the fish and stop climbing on our boat and choosing the best fish),” the fisherman said.

This happens every time Filipino fishermen go to Scarborough Shoal to catch fish, according to Cejuela.

The fisherman also lamented that there are no Philippine vessels stationed around the area while the Chinese coast guard which has constant presence in the area.

Roque, on the other hand, said that he and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano already talked to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua about the Chinese coast guard’s harassment of Filipino fishermen.

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Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and President Duterte. FILE photo

Beijing should discipline erring Chinese coast guard personnel, according to Roque.

“In-assure naman po ako ng ambassador na hindi po ito polisiya ng Tsina, na nag-iimbestiga ang Beijing at kung mapatunayan ang sinabi ng mga mangingisda ay mayroong kaparusahan na ipapatol dito sa mga Chinese coast guard na ito (The ambassador assured me that this is not a policy of China, that Beijing is looking into it and if proven that the statements of the fishermen are true, there will be punishment for these Chinese coast guard personnel),” Roque said.




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Fish stocks in Australian waters down by one-third in 10 years

June 5, 2018

Wild fish stocks in Australian waters shrank by about a third in the decade to 2015, declining in all regions except strictly protected marine zones, according to data collected by scientists and public divers.

The research, based on underwater reef monitoring at 533 sites around the nation and published in the Aquatic Conservation journal, claims to be the first large-scale independent survey of fisheries. It found declining numbers tracked the drop in total reported catch for 213 Australian fisheries for the 1992-2014 period.

By Peter Hannam
Sydney Morning Merald

The biomass of larger fish fell 36 per cent on fished reefs during 2005-15 and dropped 18 per cent in marine park zones allowing limited fishing, the researchers said. There was a small increase in targeted fish species in zones that barred fishing altogether.

“Most of the numbers are pretty shocking,” said David Booth, a marine ecologist at the University of Technology Sydney. “This paper really nails down the fact that fishing or the removal of large fish is one of the causes” of their decline.

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Over-fished stocks include the eastern jackass morwong, eastern gemfish, greenlip abalone, school shark, warehou and the grey nurse shark. The morwong catch, once as common as flathead in the trawl fishery, dived about 95 per cent from the 1960s to 109 tonnes in the 2015-16 year to become basically a bycatch species.

The paper also considered the impact of climate change. The biggest declines in fish stocks occurred in regions where the strengthening East Australian Current had lifted sea temperatures, adding to pressures on fish populations.

“Water temperatures have gone up by about 1.5 degrees in the south-east [of Australia] over the last 40 years,” said Graham Edgar, a professor at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and lead author of the paper.

“Many native species only found in that region now have nowhere further south to retreat to,” Professor Edgar said.

“That points to high losses going forward in endemic biodiversity for our children,” he said, noting that as much as 80 per cent of southern species were found only in Australian waters.

Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, defended Australia’s fisheries track record, saying it was underpinned by “world-leading scientific research and a strong legislative and policy framework”.

“The commercial catch for all fish stocks are set at ecologically sustainable levels, and for the fourth consecutive year, no fishery solely managed by the Commonwealth has been subject to overfishing,” Senator Ruston said.

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Seafood Industry Australia rejected the paper’s findings, saying the drop in commercial catch sizes had more to do with a reduction in catch-limits to ensure fisheries remained sustainable.

“The baseline year of 2005 used in the paper is the year before Australia adopted its current, more responsive fisheries management approach and [so] isn’t a reflection of our current practices,” Jane Lovell, chief executive of the industry group, said.

“Harvest strategies set the acceptable limits for commercial fisheries and are the most conservative in the world.”

However, Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens ocean spokesman, said the new research was largely based on actual underwater identification – including the Reef Life Survey using citizen scientists. It suggests fishing stocks “are not as rosy as the industry or government would like us all to think”.

“This study also shows that marine parks can be successful fisheries management tools but we simply don’t have enough of them or enough protection within them to deliver widespread benefits,” he said.

“The new Commonwealth Marine Reserves are woefully inadequate and won’t do anything to stop the continuing decline in the health of our oceans.”

Philippines President Duterte says will ‘go to war’ over South China Sea resources, but nobody believes it

May 29, 2018

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said China will cross a red line if it unilaterally mines the natural resources of the South China Sea, according to the country’s Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano.

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Updated 1:29 AM ET, Tue May 29, 2018

“(Beijing) said some red lines, we said some red lines … The President has already said that. If anyone gets the natural resources in the Western Philippines Sea, South China Sea, he will go to war. He said, “Whatever happens, happens.” He will go to war,” Cayetano said.
Tensions in the hotly disputed region have risen in recent weeks, amid reports of the Chinese military landing bombers on their artificial islands for the first time.
Under Duterte, who took office in 2016, the Philippines has toned down its rhetoric towards China on the dispute. In April, he publicly declared that he “loved” Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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It’s not clear whether the latest statement marks a tougher approach from Duterte, who’s been accused of being too lenient on the issue. Cayetano said China had been told of the “red lines.”
Manila is pursuing a joint exploration agreement with Beijing for oil and natural gas reserves in their claimed territory in the South China Sea.
Cayetano said during the speech his department was repeatedly told to “file a protest” over Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea. “We are taking all diplomatic actions at the right time,” he said.
But he said it was unfair to single out China for its advanced militarization in the South China Sea. “If there is more than one country militarizing, and it’s not only the islands, if huge navies are sailing through the area, is that not militarization?” he said. “So we don’t even have a definition of militarization.”

US Navy steps up


Cayetano’s speech came as the United States Navy sailed two warships within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands in the Paracels, as part of their regular freedom of navigation exercises in the contested waters.
It was the first time more than one US vessel had been used in the exercises, according to experts, part of a recent escalation in US opposition to China’s action in the region.
Beijing claims a huge swathe of territory across the South China Sea, known as the “nine-dash line,” from its southern Hainan province all the way down to the waters north of Malaysia.
To reinforce its claims to the territory, the Chinese government has built a series of artificial islands in the Paracel and Spratly Island chains, complete with radar facilities and airstrips.
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The Philippines says it “owns” Mischief Reef, but there is not one known Filipinos living there. China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines. China says its activity bears “not the slightest resemblance to the so-called ‘militarization’ that the US side has been irresponsibly accusing us of.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated the territory in the South China Sea falls under Beijing’s jurisdiction, to do with as it pleases.
But Beijing’s position overlaps competing territorial claims from the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, among others. An international tribunal ruled in 2016, in a case brought by the Philippines, that most of Beijing’s stated claims in the South China Sea were illegal under international maritime law.
To register its objection to Beijing’s growing militarization of its artificial islands, the United States military on May 23 disinvited China from biannual RIMPAC naval exercises.
“China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise,” a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement at the time.



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.