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China has rejected statements made by Commander of the United States (U.S.) Southern Command, Admiral Craig S. Faller which allege that, that country was involved in illegal fishing in Ecuador’s waters.
Admiral Faller was at the time speaking on illegal fishing and the U.S. efforts to assist Guyana through the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement signed between the two countries on Tuesday.
Questioned the extent to which illegal fishing affects Guyana which has warranted U.S. attention, Admiral Faller stated: “Globally, illegal fishing is a significant problem and it is impacting food security globally and we’ve seen recent incidents that, off the waters of Ecuador, where Chinese fishing fleet of up to 300 vessels was proven to have incurred into the Exclusive Economic Zone. So, our efforts working bilaterally and then working regionally are to increase and strengthen what we call ‘domain awareness’ which is a term for sharing information about who or what is moving on the sea and over the sea. It’s very important.”
However, later Tuesday, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Guyana cautioned the Admiral on his statements.
The Embassy stated that the incident in question took place in the high seas and not in Ecuador’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The high seas refer to the open ocean which is not within any country’s jurisdiction.
The Chinese Embassy said that China has repeatedly denounced the allegation and opposes strongly to such comments.
“It is widely known that the high seas of the southeast Pacific Ocean are traditional fishing grounds for various countries. In addition to China, fishing vessels from other countries are also operating in the region. As a responsible major country in fishing, China has always attached great importance to the protection of the marine environment and resources, and has exercised the strictest management and control measures over fishing vessels operating overseas. China has not found any Chinese fishing vessels operating inside the EEZ of Ecuador and has not received any reports of Chinese vessels illegally positioned from regional fisheries management organizations,” the Embassy stated.
Furthermore, the Embassy stressed that it will continuously fight, with a “zero tolerance” attitude, any form of illegal fishing and stands ready to work with all countries and international organizations to promote the conservation and the long-term sustainable use of global fishery resources.
It urged that should Guyana find any factual evidence of illegal fishing of the Chinese vessels in Guyana and provide the evidence to the Chinese side, China would never tolerate same but “deal with it strictly in accordance with relevant laws”.