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Montevideo, June 20th 2024 - 06:59 UTC



China denies US accusations of illegal fishing in South Atlantic; names Uruguay, a reliable friend, as witness

Monday, October 23rd 2023 - 05:31 UTC
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Chinese jiggers in the port of Montevideo resupplying Chinese jiggers in the port of Montevideo resupplying

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Montevideo published an official release denying United States attacks on Beijing fishing practices, 'bordering on illegal in the South Atlantic', praises the good relations with Uruguay, and commits to keep strengthening close economic and trade links, in multiple areas including measures to combat illegal fishing.

The US report alleges that “in 1998, China catches were 10.600 million tons and in 2020 the sum had climbed to 254,800 million”. Those figures distort reality exaggerating in almost 10,000 times. According to figures supplied by FAO, overall world production in 2020 reached 79 million tons. And stats from the Chinese Agriculture and Rural Affairs Ministry indicate China produced 33 million tons in 2020, of which 64,4% from farms and only 11,8 million tons of wildlife catches of which 2,3 million tons of pelagic species. Comparing the China figures with the United States, which only has a fifth of population, annual wildlife catches reached almost 5 million tons, “It is evident that accusations of overfishing pointing to China lack sound foundations”.

It is important to underline that there have been no discrepancies on fisheries between China and Uruguay. Uruguayan authorities have confirmed that they have not detected Chinese fishing activities in disagreement with the laws of Uruguay. The Chinese fishing vessels, as those from other nations, usually call in Montevideo for supplies because of its infrastructure, and its status as a free port, generating a positive economic impact for Uruguay of several million dollars annually.

The US report mentions that ”most of the last decade, on average a dead crew member was landed every two months, mainly from Chinese jiggers. The president of CAPE, well known Uruguayan commercial association has denied point blank such an accusation categorically declaring it as totally baseless. The mentioned incident in the report of a bottle that appeared in the coast of Maldonado with the a written message about the incarceration in the Lu Qing Yuan Yu 765, June last year, has proved by Uruguayan as entirely false, following the boarding of the vessel for inspection, and this incident as such was reported in the Uruguayan media.

As to the case of the dead Indonesian crewmember two years ago and included in the US report, this Diplomatic Mission never received any reports and we refuse to attack all the Chinese high seas fishing industry appealing to individual cases without confirmation from the Chinese Judiciary branch. China is a responsible country: the Chinese government voluntarily took the initiative in the implementation of fishing moratoriums in some high seas areas and always demands from Chinese fishing vessels in distant waters, to strictly comply with the law and protect the workers. For example last year in the midst of the pandemic the crew-member of a Chinese vessel Ma Yuntao, suddenly fell ill and was immediately transported to a hospital in Montevideo. The Chinese company finally spent almost half a million US dollars to pay for the hospital and later contracted a charter ambulance plane to fly him home. In July this year the Uruguayan Navy helped to rescue a crew-member of a Chinese cargo ship who suffered an epileptic attack, which has reflected the close friendship between the two peoples of Uruguay and China, and for which this embassy is profoundly grateful.

Finally China refers its commitment and willingness to continue strengthening the close economic and commercial links with the Republic of Uruguay in multiple sectors, including cooperation in the implementation of measures against illegal fisheries.

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