Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Intel agency says U.S. should consider joining South America in fight against China's illegal fishing

The U.S. should consider leading a multilateral coalition with South American nations to push back against China's illegal fishing and trade practices, a U.S. intelligence agency has recommended in a document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: China's illegal fishing industry is the largest in the world. Beijing has made distant-water fishing a geopolitical priority, viewing private Chinese fishing fleets as a way to extend state power far beyond its coasts.


  • A senior U.S. administration official confirmed to Axios that several agencies across the government are "taking a look at this in light of the president's priorities," which include "deepening cooperation with allies and partners on the challenges we face to our economy and national security."

What's happening: Huge fleets of hundreds of Chinese vessels have had boats fish illegally in the territorial waters of South American countries, including off the Galapagos Islands.

  • The activity has depleted stocks and disrupted food chains, in a practice referred to as illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing.
  • South American nations say these fleets are a challenge to their economic and environmental security, but their navies often lack the resources to effectively monitor and patrol their own waters.
  • Last year, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru stated they would join forces to defend their territorial waters from incursions by Chinese vessels.

Details: "South American countries probably would welcome a coalition effort to increase trade pressure on China and enforcement of fishing standards," officials from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis wrote in a Feb. 5 document labeled sensitive but unclassified.

  • "Unilateral pressure by the United States would likely result in China enforcing similar sanctions, just as Beijing did by enacting a new law to counter U.S. restrictions on technology firms," said those from the office, an intelligence agency within the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Several offices and agencies are working together on this effort, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the State Department, according to the document and government sources.

The document assessed with "high confidence" that Chinese fishing in South American waters would also "cause continued economic harm to U.S. domestic fisheries as a result of anticompetitive tactics."

  • It assessed with "medium confidence" that China is likely to "continue exploitative fishing practices in South American waters despite recent actions by governments and an intergovernmental organization to limit these activities."
  • It also assessed with "medium confidence" that South American countries would welcome a coalition to increase the enforcement of fishing standards.

What they're saying: "There’s a lack of understanding of this problem, that it’s a global problem, that fisheries are quite stressed," the senior administration official told Axios.

  • The Trump administration "started some work on the counter-IUU issue globally on China’s role since they’ve emerged as the biggest perpetrator on this," said the official, who added the Biden administration continues to see this as a priority.

Background: Former Chinese President Hu Jintao called for building China into a great maritime power, and in 2013 China's State Council elevated the fishing industry to the level of a strategic industry.

  • The Chinese government provides subsidies to the fishing industry, which enables boats to cover the fuel costs of sailing to distant coasts, including near West Africa and South America.
  • "China’s leaders see distant water fleets as a way to project presence around the world, so that when it comes time to set up regulatory frameworks, that they will have a big say in how those frameworks are set up," said Tabitha Mallory, CEO of the consulting firm China Ocean Institute and affiliate professor at the University of Washington.
  • The aim is to be "present all over the world’s oceans so that they can direct the outcomes of international agreements that cover maritime resources," said Mallory, "including not just fishing but seabed mining, the Arctic" and other key issues and regions.

The U.S. government has paid closer attention to China's increasingly global deep-water fishing fleets in recent years.

  • The Maritime Security and Fisheries Enforcement (SAFE) Act, passed in December 2019, established a "whole-of-government approach" to combating IUU fishing.
  • In May 2020, President Trump issued an executive order to combat illegal deep-sea fishing and help promote U.S. competitiveness in the industry.
  • In September 2020, the State Department added fish caught by China's distant water fishing fleets to its list of goods produced with forced labor — a potential concern also raised in the DHS document.

The bottom line: “Other countries need to weigh in on these issues too," Mallory said. "Anything that the U.S does alone will be seen by the Chinese as simply part of the backdrop of rising power competition."

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

Keep reading... Show less

UN: 10,000 Palestinians flee homes in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Seven people, including one child, have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

Keep reading... Show less

Bernie Sanders: The U.S. must recognize that "Palestinian rights matter"

The United States must encourage an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and adopt an "evenhanded approach" that recognizes Palestinians and Israelis have a right to "live in peace and security," Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote in a New York Times opinion on Friday.

Driving the news: Violence escalated this week after Israelis intensified efforts to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem. Hamas fired rockets and Israel massed troops, leaving more than 125 Palestinians and seven people in Israel dead.

Keep reading... Show less

Uber launches new anti-racism efforts, hires new inclusive design lead

Eager to show progress on the pledge to make its platform and business anti-racist, Uber on Friday announced new anti-racism driver and rider campaigns, as well as fresh internal hiring practices, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Uber is one of the biggest ride hailing companies in the world. Its decisions impact the millions that use the platform, where drivers and riders alike say they have experienced racism.

Keep reading... Show less

Ex-Gaetz associate admits to sex trafficking, agrees to cooperate with federal prosecutors

Joel Greenberg, a former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to a variety of federal charges including sex trafficking a minor, New York Times reported Friday citing court papers.

Why it matters: Investigators believe Greenberg introduced women to Gaetz for paid sex and are looking into the Florida congressman's alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Greenberg could be a key witness as federal prosecutors decide whether to charge Gaetz.

Keep reading... Show less

White House: User fees for infrastructure deal would "violate" Biden's tax pledge

The White House on Friday said that Republicans' idea to impose user fees for infrastructure spending would "violate" President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.

What they're saying: "The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."

Keep reading... Show less

City of Columbus, Andre Hill's family agree to $10M settlement over the fatal police shooting

Columbus, Ohio, on Friday reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police as he walked out of a garage while holding a cellphone.

What they're saying: "We understand that because of this former officer's actions, the Hill family will never be whole," City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. "No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction."

Keep reading... Show less

"Mass Effect": Gaming's biggest space opera returns

The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games.

Why it matters: There is no series like "Mass Effect" — even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it’s also about loyalty, love, and tough calls.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories