Fisheries Law Enforcement Command
China Marine Surveillance and the Fisheries Law Enforcement Command remain the mainstay of law enforcement fleets patrolling in the South China Sea. The 2580 ton, 110m Fisheries Law Enforcement Command patrol ship Yuzheng 310 China Fishery 310 [FLEC 310] joined the South China Sea in 2011. The advanced ship, weighing 2,580 tons, has been on a series of tasks including its maiden voyage around the Diaoyu Islands and other affiliated isles in the East China Sea in November 2010 and has an endurance of 6,000 nautical miles.
China's most advanced fisheries law enforcement ship China Fishery 310 set off April 19, 2012 from Guangzhou in Guangdong Province for a new mission in the waters of the South China Sea. According to the Bureau of Fishery Administration in the South China Sea Region under the Ministry of Agriculture, the estimated 50-day-long journey this time aims to defend Chinese fishermen's rights in the sea area.
The South China Sea has become a hot spot where several disputes and incidents of harassment of Chinese fishermen have emerged recently involving neighboring nations. The Bureau of Fishery Administration in the South China Sea Region had around eight ships for law enforcement missions, falling well short of the actual demand, considering the massive size of the South China Sea.
On 05 May 2010 Yuzheng (Fishery Administration) Ship 311 and 202 of the MOA Bureau of Fisheries returned to Sanya of Hainan Province, successfully accomplishing the 35-day task of escort and inspection around the Nansha Islands. On April 1, 2010, the Ministry of Agriculture dispatched the two ships to important fishing grounds at the Nansha Islands, especially the southwestern fishing ground of the islands, to provide protection to China’s fishing vessels operating in the area. The mission aimed to secure order of fishing operation around the islands, protect fishermen and fishing resources, and safeguard China’s marine interests.
Despite harsh conditions and long-distance voyage, the ships escorted China’s fishing vessels operating in the area, covering 50,000 square km of fishing ground to the southwest of the islands and 200,000 square km of fishing ground at the island reefs. The escort group traveled over 4,000 nautical miles, provided protection and service to 276 China’s fishing vessels, and observed 201 foreign vessels, effectively preventing China’s vessel from being illegally seized and robbed.
To continue with the escort task, the Ministry of Agriculture dispatched Yuzheng Ship 301 and Ship 302 on April 25 as the second group to replace the first two ships at the Nansha Islands. Crewmembers of the ships carried out inspection at important reefs and sea areas of the islands, and visited soldiers stationed on the islands as well as fishermen operating nearby. After that, Yuzheng Ship 311 and Ship 202 returned to Sanya, while Yuzheng Ship 301 and Ship 302 continued with the task around the islands. The effective combination of cruising, escorting fishing vessels and management has promoted the efficiency of management as an effective exploration in new ways of fishing law enforcement at the Nansha Islands.
On 03 March 2011, the PLAN transferred one of its Shengli class coastal tankers from the East Sea Fleet to the civilian Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC). It entered dry-dock for refit and removal of armaments (2x Type 74 twin 37mm and 2x Type 61 twin 25mm AAA). The old pennant number "East Oiler 621" was and the new pennant number is "FLEC 312".
China's basic fisheries law was passed in 1986, and was amended in 2000. China has also instituted various regulations on vessel registration and management, fish breeding and catch levels, along with temporary fishing moratoria in certain regions. Nationwide, China has 30,000 fisheries officials and 1,100 enforcement vessels. China's fisheries enforcement is increasingly sophisticated with licensing requirements and regulations on nets, equipment, engine size, and open seasons. Even so, China's numerous small boats and small harbors make fisheries law enforcement problematic; there are just too many boats and too few officials to police them.
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