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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Tracking Fish: China in the Global Supply Chain
A pair of studies conducted for the United Kingdom’s DEFRA and DFID examined China’s role in the global fish trade and in distant water fishing fleets. Based on these analyses, this presentation explores whether the tracking of fish products, an essential element of efforts to combat IUU fishing, is difficult in China because of the sheer volume of its fisheries and trade, or because of intrinsic properties of China’s systems.
The presentation focuses on four key characteristics relevant to tracking fish products: traceability systems, trading structure, vessel registry and catch reporting. In terms of traceability, China has world-class, existing systems which if fully implemented satisfy current international standards. However, problems may arise if sanitary (quality) and customs (quantity) systems are not completely integrated. Most trade of fish through China is structured either as custom processing or pure trading. The latter type of trade allows fish to change hands several times while in China with obvious implications for traceability. The large number of small workshops in China may also be problematic. China has at least 1,955 distant water fishing vessels but tracking them is complicated by the lack of unique and permanent vessel identifiers as well as by problems with romanisation of Chinese names for English-based recordkeeping. China’s catch reporting system appears ill-suited to capturing the full extent of catches by Chinese vessels, particularly with regard to distant water vessels which in many cases appear to report only those catches they bring back to China.
While all of these issues have critical implications for global fisheries management, it is essential to note that most countries are dealing with similar problems, and many of these have less capacity to resolve them than does China. Thus, while the scale of operations in China highlights and magnifies existing shortfalls, it also provides an opportunity and an impetus for both China and the international community to work toward resolving them.
Link to document
Issues/Chain of custody / Supply chain management