By Alan Boyd
ASEAN, August 7, 2017
Escalating tensions over fishing rights in the South China Sea may be a harbinger of stormy seas ahead as more of Southeast Asia’s trawler fleet casts its half-empty nets in contested waters.
Indonesia’s navy fired shots at a Vietnamese fishing vessel in late July in the second clash between the two countries over trawler access since May. Vietnam says four fishermen were wounded, though that account is disputed by the Indonesian authority.
There have been similar incidents in the past year involving fishing vessels from Thailand, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Taiwan. Indonesia claims that 10,000 foreign ships were fishing in its territory before naval patrols were stepped up.
A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Food & Agriculture Organization forecast annual output by the 14.5 million fishers will grow by a meagre 1.2% over the next decade, down from 3.6% in the past 15 years.
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