China accused of fudging catch figures

RESEARCH into China’s commercial fishing catch has revealed the country’s vessels are taking a huge unreported global catch.

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that instead of an average 368,000 tonnes a year that China reported to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, its fleets hauled in as much as 4.6 million tonnes, scientists estimate.

The research group, led by Canadian Daniel Pauly, said China was taking 198,000 tonnes of fish a year out of Oceania. This is much greater than its reported western Pacific catch, almost exclusively of tuna, of 105,000 tonnes in 2011.

China has rapidly expanded into Pacific fisheries, with 241 China-flagged vessels approved to fish by the Forum Fisheries Agency, more than doubling in a few years, according to Greenpeace.

”It’s a grave situation,” said Greenpeace Oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle. ”China is turning its fishing attention everywhere.”

Dr Pauly’s group reconstructed catches from 2000-11, finding Chinese ships focused on West Africa, where as much as 2.9 million tonnes a year was being taken.

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