Catches of the Chinese Distant-Water Fleet

D. Pauly, D. Belhabib, W. W. L. Cheung, A. Cisneros-Montemayor, S. Harper, V. Lam, Y. Y. Mai, F. Le Manach, K. M. Mok, L. van der Meer, S. Shon, W. Swartz, U. R. Sumaila, R. Watson, L. Zhai, D. Zeller, (2012). “Catches [of the Chinese Distant- Water Fleet],” European Parliament, Directorate General for Internal Policies, Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies – Fisheries. (European Parliament, Brussels

Republic of China for 2000 to 2011, using a newly assembled, large database of reported occurrence of Chinese fishing vessels in various parts of the world, and information on the annual catch of vessels by types. Given the unreliability of official statistics, uncertainty of results was estimated through a regionally stratified Monte Carlo approach which documents the presence and number of Chinese vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zones of countries and territories, then multiplies these by the expected annual catch per vessel. We find that China, which was known to over-report its domestic catch, massively under- reports the catch of its distant-water fleets. This catch, conservatively estimated at 4.6 million t·year-1 (±687,000 t·year-1) globally for 2000 to 2011 (compared to an average of 368,000 t·year-1 reported by China to FAO), corresponds to an ex-vessel landed value of 8.93 billion €·year-1 (± 1.53 billion). Chinese distant water fleets extract the largest catch in African waters, about 3.1 million t·year-1 (±690,000), followed by Asia (over 1.0 million t·year-1 ± 241,000), Oceania (198,000 t·year-1 ±31,000), Central & South America (182,000 t·year-1 ± 53,000) and Antarctica (48,000 t·year-1 ±26,000). The uncertainty of these estimates (± 1 standard deviation) is relatively high, but several sources of inaccuracy could not be fully resolved given the constraints inherent in the underlying data and method, which also prevented us from distinguishing between legal/reported and illegal, unreported or unregulated catch.