Chinese Fishing Vessel Sinks in Indian Ocean, Dozens Missing
In a distressing incident in the Indian Ocean, a Chinese fishing boat capsized, leading to the disappearance of all 39 crew members comprising Chinese, Indonesian, and Filipino nationals, as reported by state media. The incident occurred during the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to broadcaster CCTV.
President Xi Jinping has instructed a synchronized search operation, although, as of now, no traces of the missing individuals have been found, as confirmed by CCTV. In response, China has deployed two commercial vessels to assist in the regional search-and-rescue endeavor.
Premier Li Qiang emphasized the need for bolstering safety management measures and implementing preventive actions to ensure the security of maritime transportation. The exact location of the sinking was not disclosed in Chinese reports, except for its occurrence in the central region of the vast Indian Ocean that stretches from South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to East Africa and western Australia.
The Philippine Coast Guard has been actively monitoring the situation and coordinating with the Chinese Embassy in Manila, along with search-and-rescue teams operating in proximity to the vessel’s last-known whereabouts.
The fishing boat, named Lupenglaiyuanyu No 8, belonged to Penglai Jinglu Fishery Co, a prominent state-run fishing enterprise in China. Authorized for capturing neon flying squid and Pacific saury, it embarked on its journey from Cape Town, South Africa on May 5, en route to Busan, South Korea, as indicated by the MarineTraffic tracking website. The vessel was last located on May 10 southeast of Reunion, a small French island in the Indian Ocean.
China possesses the largest deep-sea fishing fleet globally, with its ships frequently spending extended periods at sea, aided by Chinese state maritime security agencies and a vast support vessel network. Meanwhile, the Philippines contributes approximately 25% of the world’s seafarers.
Although the cause of the sinking remains unknown, adverse weather conditions and rough seas often contribute to such tragic incidents. Concerns have been raised about illegal fishing activities in the Indian Ocean, particularly by Chinese squid fishing ships that employ large nets to unlawfully catch already overfished tuna. A report by the Norway-based watchdog group, Trygg Mat Tracking, revealed a six-fold increase in squid vessels in the unregulated high seas of the Indian Ocean since 2016.
In 2022, the United States Coast Guard encountered perilous circumstances when inspecting Chinese vessels near Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, suspecting illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing activities.
The search efforts continue as authorities strive to locate the missing crew members and shed light on the circumstances surrounding this tragic maritime incident.