Excerpt from The Diplomat
Long a topic discussed in connection with the South China Sea, illegal Chinese fishing vessels are of increasing concern for Pacific Island nations.
As recently as early this week, the archipelago nation of Palau, east of the Philippines and north of New Guinea, announced that it had intercepted and detained a Chinese fishing vessel and six smaller boats in its territorial waters after it was confirmed the vessel had entered unlawfully and was illegally fishing sea cucumber.
The fishing vessel was apprehended in Helen Reef, Palau’s most southernmost region, by a Guardian-class patrol boat that Australia had delivered to Palau in September.
“They did have sea cucumber on there… it’s estimated about 500 pounds (225 kilograms),” Victor Remengesau, director of Palau’s division of marine law and enforcement, told reporters. “It’s unlawful entry. We may care about COVID and the spread of COVID, but we can’t just let people do whatever they want, and disguise [illegal activity].”