High on the agenda of Quad nations is China and the threat it poses because of illegal fishing. The countries have planned to launch a satellite-based maritime security system at the Quad summit to check China’s illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Beijing is responsible for 95 per cent of illegal fishing activities in the Indo-Pacific.
- Countries in the region are not pleased with China’s vast fishing fleet.
- The big grouse is that Beijing often violates economic zones, leading to not only economic losses but also damage to the environment.
- Overexploitation and illegal fishing are hurting the world’s marine resources and livelihood.
- China’s distant-water fishing (DWF) fleet has almost 17,000 vessels. It is the largest in the world.
- Globally, fish provide about 3.3 billion people with 20% of their average animal protein intake. According to an FAO report, around 60 million people are engaged in the sector of fisheries and aquaculture.
What is the ‘maritime surveillance initiative’ of the Quad?
- Quad’s maritime initiative will use satellite technology to create a tracking system for illegal fishing from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific by connecting surveillance centres in Singapore and India.
- This will enable the Quad group of nations to monitor illegal fishing even when boats have turned off the transponders which are typically used to track vessels.
- The move aims to stop China from its alleged illegal fishing and reduce the dependence of small Pacific islands on Beijing.
- The US Coast Guard has said illegal fishing has outpaced piracy as the top global maritime security threat, and risks heightening tensions among countries vying for overexploited fishing stocks.
India’s role –
- The Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) may play a crucial role in the initiative against illegal fishing.
- The IFC-IOR was established in 2018 for regional collaboration on maritime security issues including “maritime terrorism”, illegal unregulated and unreported fishing, piracy, armed robbery on the high seas, and human and contraband trafficking.
- The Gurgaon-based data fusion centre has information-sharing links with 50 nations and multinational/maritime centres.