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A Japanese coast guard patrol boat approaches a Chinese fishing boat, left, off the northeastern coast of Miyako island, Feb. 2, 2013 (AP photo/Japan Coast Guard 11th Regional Headquarters).

Fishing Wars: China’s Aggression Could Stoke Future Conflict

, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015

The Vikings conquered the high seas to plunder and pillage. The British established their empire by dominating the oceans. And in the past 40 years, the United States Navy helped usher in a new era of unprecedented trade and global connectivity by safeguarding major sea routes. The world’s oceans have always represented an important strategic theater. But the threats today go beyond the headline-grabbing developments, like China’s advanced naval capabilities and Russia’s growing submarine activities in the Baltic Sea. A quieter maritime challenge is building up out of sight: control over the world’s fisheries.

With over 90 percent of global fisheries either fully collapsed or depleted and the demand for fish expected to continue rising, intense competition over fishing rights and access is highly likely, if not inevitable. After all, nations have a long history of clashing over consumable commodities, and for many countries fishing catches represent a major source of food and livelihoods. ...

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