"For years, reports of illegal fishing activities have dogged China’s distant-water fishing fleet. Now, China is significantly tightening regulations governing these vessels for the first time in 17 years, with a slew of new rules taking effect throughout 2020, including harsher penalties for captains and companies found to have broken the law.
Estimated at a minimum of 2,900 vessels, the country’s distant-water fleet, active outside its maritime borders, dwarfs that of other nations. Since 2003 it has grown by at least 1,000 boats and doubled its reported annual catch.
The rule changes include revisions to the Distant-Water Fishing Management Regulations, new Management Measures for High Seas Squid Fishery and a new Rule for High Seas Transshipment released earlier this year; as well as a revision to the Administrative Measures of the Vessel Monitoring System released in 2019. They all take effect between January 2020 and January 2021. Leaving less space for illegal activities, the changes are geared toward increasing transparency and promoting more sustainable practices."