United States President Joe Biden signed a national security memorandum to fight illegal fishing on Monday and help countries fight violations by fishing fleets, including those of China.
The White House said it would also launch an alliance with the United Kingdom and Canada to improve control, monitoring and surveillance in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“The PRC (People’s Republic of China) is a leading contributor to IUU fishing worldwide, and has impeded progress on the development of measures to combat IUU fishing and overfishing,” senior US administration officials told reporters in a briefing.
Some countries in the Indo-Pacific region said China’s vessels often violate their 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and cause environmental damage and financial losses. At the beginning of June, the Philippines accused China of illegal fishing in its EEZ.
China argued it is a responsible fishing country that has been cooperating internationally to fight illegal fishing and that it only fishes in relevant EEZs according to bilateral agreements.
“The US accusation is completely untrue and does nothing to protect the marine environment and promote international cooperation in sustainable fishery,” Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington, said in a statement.
The US Coast Guard said illegal fishing had replaced piracy as the top global maritime security threat and risks heightening tensions among countries competing for overexploited fishing stocks.