Posted on April 23, 2021

China’s role in the global ocean

China Dialogue
The Sustainable Seafood Project

In October 2020, MarFishEco was asked by the China Dialogue Trust to examine the progress of their Sustainable Seafood project over the previous two years – a project that has worked hard to objectively investigate, analyse, report, and illuminate China’s role in the global ocean.

In recent years, China has rapidly become one of the world’s most powerful ocean players. China is now the biggest consumer and processor of seafood, host of the biggest aquaculture industry, the largest source of ocean plastics, owner of the world’s largest distant-water fleet (DWF) and is seen as a major driver of global IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing.

Through our work, the MFE team reviewed and synthesised the many detailed stories produced by the China Dialogue Ocean’s editorial team. These stories recognise China’s ocean dominance and global reach, along with the country’s impact, key patterns, trends, and challenges in relation to fisheries and the marine environment. They also acknowledge China’s conservation successes and opportunities moving forwards to help solve some of the ocean’s biggest environmental challenges.

Measuring Progress

MarFishEco worked hard to recognise and present China’s legitimate needs throughout the work, whilst firmly acknowledging that these needs will not be met in the future without urgent sustainable reform, particularly if predatory and illegal practices that damage the long-term interests of China and other countries continue. Our presentation of China Dialogue Ocean’s work demonstrates that China must make strides towards improved practices if it is not to keep appearing in international press headlines as a repeat offender.

The MFE team also draw attention to the speed of technological advances that have opened new possibilities to detect and record IUU activity, highlighting that this will mean increasing pressure for China to improve its fisheries behaviour. By presenting an optimistic and hopeful case, however, the MFE team show that this pressure will bring positive change in the form of regulatory reform, more vigorous implementation and increased exposure of companies and people that engage in illicit activities.

The MarFishEco team are delighted to have been asked to evaluate the China Dialogue Trust’s work – bringing together the lessons learnt throughout the Sustainable Seafood project so far. Given China’s central position in the global fishing industry, we are hopeful that our review of the projects work will add motivation to China’s historic opportunity to become a leader in international solutions to ocean-related environmental problems.

View Sustainable Seafood report