Increasing presence of Chinese research and fishing vessels in Indian Ocean Region
Data generated has a dual nature including military and many times the motive seems doubtful, says an official.
In the last few years, there has been an increasing trend of Chinese research and fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), according to officials.
“There has been steady rise in the deployment of Chinese research vessels in the IOR. The general area of deployment has been observed in 90 degree east ridge and south-west Indian ridge,” one official said on condition of anonymity. There are three research and survey vessels in the IOR.
They include Xiang Yang Hong 01 and Xiang Yang Hong 03, both of which also docked in the Colombo port last month and early this month respectively. Another survey vessel HAI CE 3301 which is near the Strait of Malacca and is known to have conducted extensive maritime surveys in the past in the Western Pacific Ocean.
In January, Xiang Yang Hong 06 had conducted research in the territorial waters of Sri Lanka. While research activities are allowed in international waters as per international regulations, the data generated has a dual nature including military and many times the motive of the vessels seems doubtful, said a second official. The Navy has been keeping a close watch on their movements in the IOR.
Fishing in Southern Indian Ocean
In the last four years, the number of the fishing vessels has gone up from 300 to around 450 on the high seas. The fishing activity has a seasonal behaviour wherein the vessels withdraw from the Arabian Sea before the onset of monsoon and return in September-October, the official said.
The concentration of fishing activities has been observed in the Central Arabian Sea and the South West Indian Ocean, officials said. They include trawlers from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, there is no presence in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
In the last few years, there have been significant number of occurrences near Somalia and near the Coast of Oman based on the recordings of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) onboard trawlers.
While India is one of the largest producers of fish, the catch is largely inland or cultivated. Deep sea fishing is a small fraction with limited availability of mechanised boats and other means as well as lack of policy framework to boost it.