A new study from the University of British Columbia has shocked many over the past few days. It reported that only 9% of the millions of tons of fish caught in West African and other international waters have been reported to the UN.
While fisheries experts have considered China’s reports to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) low for a long time, they are still shocked by the sheer scale of the deception. A spokesman for the UNFAO has stated that the new figures even seem far too high (despite the study’s authors’ determination that their study used “conservative” methods of estimation).
This study calculated that nearly 75% of all the fish caught by Chinese vessels came from African waters, with about 3 million tons coming from West Africa alone. This seems particularly unjust, given that other international business interests (mainly from oil companies, and supported by local politicians) have resulted in mass damage to the environment, such as the formerly rich Niger Delta.
Greenpeace reports that sub-Saharan Africa is the only region on the planet where per capita fish consumption is falling, largely due to foreign fishing fleets having removed so much fish. While European and other developed countries once dominated the African fishing market, they withdrew due to public pressure. At that point, many Chinese vessels took advantage of the opportunity.