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Quad Summit 2022: maritime security initiative to track ‘dark shipping’ in the Indo-Pacific

Quad leaders launched a number of initiatives at the Tokyo summit, including maritime security collaboration that will allow member nations to track illegal fishing, “black ships” and other tactical-level actions. .

“Benefit from this maritime initiative will help track dark shipping and other tactical level activities, such as rendezvous at sea, as well as improve partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and protect their fisheries, which are vital to many Indo-Pacific economies,” the White House said in a press release on the sidelines of the Quad Summit.

Dark ships, for example, are ships that have their Automatic Identification System (AIS) – a transponder system – turned off so they are not detectable. This important maritime agreement between the member countries of the Quad will strengthen the security system of the Indo-Pacific region.

Why is illegal fishing considered such a serious problem?

The livelihoods and food security of millions of people are threatened by the uncontrolled plunder of fish stocks around the world.

Fish provides 20% of the typical animal protein intake for approximately 3.3 billion people worldwide. According to an FAO report, the fisheries and aquaculture sectors employ more than 60 million people.

Although it is difficult to assess the economic loss of illegal fishing, some estimates put it at more than 20 billion dollars per year. Illegal fishing overtook piracy as a global maritime concern in 2020, according to the US Coast Guard.

The collapse of fisheries in the Indo-Pacific, as elsewhere, can destabilize coastal governments and pose a significantly greater danger to security, as it can fuel human trafficking, drug-related crime and the recruitment of terrorists.

Why is China being judged?

China was ranked as the worst offender in the 2021 IUU Fishing Index, which maps 152 coastal countries.

After overexploiting its own waterways, China is responsible for 80-95% of illegal fishing in the region. To meet its growing domestic demand, it has been known to encourage illegal fishing with substantial incentives.

China’s deep-sea fishing fleet (DWF) comprises about 17,000 vessels, according to ODI, a global affairs think tank.

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