Argentina coast guard sinks Chinese trawler fishing illegally


Argentina’s coast guard has sunk a Chinese trawler that was fishing illegally within the nation’s territorial waters, officials from the South American country said on Tuesday, marking a first test of relations between President Mauricio Macri and Beijing.

A coast guard vessel pursued the fishing vessel Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 toward international waters in a high-seas chase on Monday, firing warning shots across the Chinese boat’s bow as it attempted to raise the crew by radio.

“On several occasions, the offending ship performed maneuvers designed to force a collision with the coast guard, putting at risk not only its own crew but coast guard personnel, who were then ordered to shoot parts of the vessel,” the coast guard said in a statement.

It was not clear if the vessel sank on Monday or Tuesday. The crew abandoned ship when the vessel began to go down.

Four crewmen were rescued by an Argentinian ship while others were picked up by another Chinese vessel shadowing the pursuit.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement the Chinese government had lodged a protest over the incident and were demanding an explanation.

“The Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassy in Argentina have already lodged emergency representations with the Argentinian side and expressed serious concern about the incident, demanding Argentina launch an immediate probe and report on the details to China,” it said.

Beijing is also asking Buenos Aires to ensure the safety and legal rights of Chinese fishermen and take steps to ensure such incidents do not happen again, the statement said.

Macri’s center-right government, which took office in December, will likely be keen to avoid a diplomatic ruckus with the Asian powerhouse who has gained a strong foothold in South America, traditionally the United States’ back yard.

Relations between Argentina and China tightened under former leftist leader Cristina Fernandez. Macri promised during last year’s presidential race to review all new contracts with China but has shown no sign of doing so. Among those deals were an agreement to finance and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina in a deal worth up to $15 billion.

A spokesman for Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said the judiciary was investigating the incident.

The coast guard using radar picked up the trawler fishing off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Chubut province, a zone known for squid.

Shots were fired into the hull of the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 after it ignored repeated warning fire and radio calls to allow the Argentine coast guard to board.

China has the world’s largest distant-water fishing fleet, with more than 2,000 vessels, the not-for-profit group Stop Illegal Fishing said last year.

  • Tachomanx

    More nations should take notice of this action and emulate it as to teach the chinese the true meaning of respect and actual rule of law.

    • Yep: sinking every illegally fishing ship (after evacuating the crew) would be quite a good message.

  • Ariko Honda

    Tachomanx is 100% correct. The Chinese do not respect International Law. The only thing they respect is the rule of force, and more countries should exercise it on these pirates.

  • South China Sea

    Even the fish and the turtles are clapping now. China has been getting away with it. Fact is in the South China Sea alone starting from the late 90’s and to this day, similar actions by these fishermen which are backed and condoned by the PLA Navy, have been poaching and killing not just the fish but many of the protected and near extinct marine life including the coral reefs. Sanctioned and condoned by the great white fleet, the PLA Navy. (ref. Half-Moon Shoal, Tubbataha reef, Scarborough Shoal incidents, etc.)

  • CLJF

    Good on Argentina. Illegal fishing needs to be stamped out, and the Chinese are one of the worst perpetrators.