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“US Spy Agencies Concerned Over Expansion Of Chinese Tuna Fleet In Indian Ocean”

The expansion of Chinese fishing activities in the Indian Ocean has caused concern for India’s share of global tuna catch; it is triggering emotional reactions in India and some forecast that it will hit Indian Ocean coastal communities that rely on skipjack tuna for their livelihood.

The issue appears heightened however with the Indian press reporting that of the estimated 4.4 million tons of tuna caught in the Indian Ocean, India contributes 2.5 million. But FAO statistics show that from 2007-2011, even though the Indian Ocean is the second most common tuna fishing area for Indian vessels, this figure peaked in 2011 at only 92,546 tons.



A Kerala fishworker’s union has fears over the increased fishing of Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean, prompting the Union Agricultural Minister to arrange to meet with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in the hope to adopt a comprehensive approach to the situation.

According to Charles George, President of the Union, US spy agencies are concerned about the increasing Chinese involvement in the Indian Ocean region, stating that the Chinese fishing operations have serious security implications for India, with fishing vessels able to engage in covert activities.

However, this US concern reported by Indian press gave no indication as to how Charles George received this kind of information from the spy agencies.

Instead he reiterated that the approach was necessary to the fish stock of Area 51, a major fishing area in western Indian Ocean, outlining that it was essential in the context of a Chinese company securing permission for 20 high-tech ships to fish tuna in Sri Lankan waters.

The IOTC is the Regional Fisheries Management Organization for the region that manages tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean. It is made up of 31 countries that each has its own Exclusive Economic Zone, a seazone of 200 miles from a nation’s coast of which it has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources.

Though the Sri Lanka government claimed that the Chinese vessels would fish “beyond Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” the fish workers forum still said that the extensive fishing of tunas by the Chinese company would hurt the livelihood of several coastal fishing communities in many countries including India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.