China’s Illegal Fishing Is Also a Human Rights Issue

China’s Illegal Fishing Is Also a Human Rights Issue
The U.S. Coast Guard conducts a boarding of a fishing vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Aug. 3, 2022 (U.S. Coast Guard photo via AP Images).

China’s distant-water fishing fleet, the world’s largest, is engaging in human rights abuses and systematic illegal fishing on an unprecedented scale. That’s what the Environmental Justice Foundation, of which I am the CEO and founder, has documented through years of investigations that have built a uniquely detailed understanding of the fleet’s global activities.

EJF has interviewed hundreds of fishers from Chinese vessels across the world’s oceans and collected video footage from their crews. EJF personnel have also talked to small-scale fishers and members of the coastal communities who are faced with industrial ships taking over their fishing grounds.

The information we’ve gathered makes it clear that urgent action is needed now to rein in the Chinese fleet and end these abuses, not least because there are clear links between the fish it catches and the U.S. market. Chinese vessels responsible for the violent abuse of their crews, the intentional killing of endangered wildlife and repeated illegal fishing supply retailers in the U.S., including household names like Walmart, Amazon and Target.

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