As the seasonal fishing ban comes to an end in China, shipowners and operators are advised to take additional precautions when planning a voyage to and from Chinese ports due to the increased number of fishing vessels in Chinese waters.
Note -- An update to this alert was published in August 2020
During the period 2006 to 2011 there were some 268 incidents involving fishing vessels in Chinese waters, resulting in 562 deaths. Since that time the severity of the incidents has improved somewhat, although the frequency remains high.
Gard’s correspondents in China, Huatai Insurance Agency and Consultant Service Ltd., recently published a circular warning of an increase in fishing traffic in the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the waters north of 12° N of South China Sea (including the Beibu Gulf) as the seasonal fishing ban comes to an end. Huatai Circular PNI 1708 of 11 August 2017 outlines the time periods for each location and provides some key information to assist with voyage planning during this period.
Masters are encouraged to plot the dates and applicable areas covered by the fishing ban on navigation charts and ECDIS. Although the geographical boundaries of the areas are well defined, navigational watches should not be relaxed in anticipation of lower traffic density outside the defined area. Similarly, the dates are for guidance only as there is likely to be other commercial or fishing traffic in the waters surrounding the area.
The circular highlights some of the key characteristics of the fishing areas and the fishing vessels involved. Please see the Circular for further details.
Below illustration highlights the areas with a high frequency of collision. Mariners may also experience higher density of fishing vessels in areas just outside the marked areas in the below illustration.