Pakistan illegally seized five Chinese fishing boats in the Arabian Sea near the town of Gwadar. This measure was taken by Pakistan after the protest of local fishermen. These Chinese boats were fishing in Pakistan’s exclusive economic zone without authorization. Local fishermen, who lost their land in Gwadar to China, now fear losing their sea fishing grounds.
Five Chinese trawlers arrested in Gwadar
According to an article in The Guardian, Chinese trawlers loaded with fish have been arrested by the Pakistan Maritime Safety Agency. China is building a deep-water port at Gwadar as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistani agencies have opened an investigation into the suspicious presence of these boats near this important strategic location. Pakistan suspects that under the guise of Chinese fishermen, enemy countries can also take any action.
Chinese boats had been catching fish for several weeks
These Chinese boats had been fishing in this area for several weeks. After that the local fishermen gathered by the hundreds and organized a rally against the Chinese trawlers. These fishermen accused Chinese boats of fishing in Pakistani waters and returning the fish to China. Local officials and a group of fishermen visited one of the Chinese trawlers on Sunday to determine whether its fish had been caught in provincial waters.
Request for auctioning of caught fish
Gwadar Fishermen’s Alliance Chairman Khuddad Waju said fishermen believe Chinese trawlers caught the fish off the coast of Gwadar. They are visiting other Chinese trawlers today to learn more. We demand that these fish be auctioned in Gwadar and not taken to China.
Local fishermen oppose China
Akbar Ras, 70, has been a fisherman for five decades. He said we have been fishing here for centuries. My grandfather was a fisherman and my children are also fishermen. This ocean gives us life. Chinese trawlers are there to destroy our livelihoods. We will oppose them until the government stops giving them fishing rights.
Gwadar became China’s for 40 years
The port of Gwadar is considered the gateway to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is a Chinese multi-dollar megaproject, which China is developing to gain a strategic advantage. In 2017, Pakistan ceded control of the port of Gwadar to China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), a Chinese state-owned company, under a 40-year lease.
At the same time, Zhang Baozhong, chairman of the China Overseas Port Holding Company, which manages the port of Gwadar, denied that the detained Chinese trawlers were fishing in Gwadar. They claimed that these trawlers were taking shelter to escape a storm. He claimed that Chinese trawlers follow the rules of the International Maritime Organization.