The massive Chinese Fishing Fleet roaming the Pacific and elsewhere fishing illegally came in for a rude awakening recently. The “Hua Li 8” was spotted by the Argentinian Navy fishing illegally within their EEZ. A skirmish ensued and after considerable drama, the vessel escaped. My first thoughts are how could a Navy with all the assets at it’s disposal not be successful in securing such a vessel? Yet having let a number of illegal fishing boats slip through our team’s grapes at different times, I know all too well it can easily happen.
Back to the Hua Li 8, a year or two ago it would have disappeared and nothing would happen. Not so this time. Argentina alerted Interpol, who in turn notified member nations to seize and secure said vessel if she turns up in their waters.
Now this is where things get interesting. Last week, the Hua Li 8 arrived in Indonesia, and amazingly, she was impounded and all crew arrested. Which is a real turn up of events. It is a significant blow to the pirate fishing fleet, that historically could slide into places like Indonesia undetected.
I attended the Interpol Symposium on Fish Crime last year, and it was evident there is a growing level of co-operation between member nations to mount international campaigns against the pirate fleets. Both Argentina and Indonesia had members attending the event, and I hope it heralds a new front in addressing fish crime. The Hua Li 8 might be just one small victory, but I believe it is significant.
The question now of course is will Indonesia blow her up? China wields a big stick in Asia, and countries like Indonesia traditionally have been reluctant to confront them. Yet the vessel was secured so perhaps she will be destroyed, in some ways just as she has destroyed fish stocks across the Pacific. The more of these vessels we can get rid of the better frankly. Turning her into a reef to support fish life is a much better result than seeing her sold at auction and ending out pillaging our oceans again.,
Here is a video of the impounded vessel and crew. They don’t look so confident now!