‘Quad’ Nations to Track Illegal Chinese Fishing

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You’ve heard of the trade war; now, how about a fishing war?

President Joe Biden and leaders from Japan, Australia, and India — the four member nations of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or simply the Quad — are set to announce a new initiative to curb illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific, specifically by Chinese fishers, The Financial Times reported this weekend. It’s the latest move on the part of what’s known as the “Asian NATO.”

(Don’t) Go Fish

The new security initiative is set to be announced this week at a summit in Tokyo, where Biden will engage with Asian-Pacific nations on a new “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” to bolster economic relations with Asian nations — part of the White House’s plan to soothe concerns that war in Ukraine has diverted its focus from countering China’s growing influence in the region, particularly over smaller island states.

Fishing is a massive industry for the region, and, together, the Quad hopes to curb illegal fishing, 95% of which the group claims is done by China:

  • The Quad’s initiative will synchronize existing surveillance systems in India, Singapore, and the Pacific to create a unified satellite-based tracking system that will work even when a vessel’s transponder is deactivated, according to the FT.
  • “China has become the world’s largest perpetrator of illegal fishing,” Charles Edel, Australia chair at think-tank CSIS, told the FT. “They have drastically depleted global fishing stocks and undermined traditional livelihoods of many countries.”

The Quad’s plans come just after the group and its allies reportedly grew concerned Beijing is plotting a security pact with the 33-island nation of Kiribati — which military experts believe could lead to China establishing a naval base deep in the central Pacific, a move that would heighten international tensions. We’d rather everyone just go fishing.

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