Explained: Navy information center could play key role in Quad’s push to check China’s overfishing

The Indian Navy Information Fusion Center – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) could play a key role in a Quad initiative against illegal fishing.

Quoting a US official, the Financial Times reported that the initiative, which will be announced by the four Quad leaders at the group’s summit in Tokyo, will bring together existing surveillance centers in Singapore, India and the Pacific to create a Unregulated and Unreported Fisheries (IUUF) monitoring system in the Indo-Pacific region.

Chinese trawler fleets are seen as responsible for most of the IUUF in the Indo-Pacific region, and the initiative is likely to be seen as a Quad pressure point against China.

The United States is also expected to launch a new economic and trade agreement called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which also aims to contain China’s economic weight in the region.

The IFC-IOR was established in 2018 for regional collaboration on maritime security issues including “maritime terrorism”, IUUs, piracy, armed robbery on the high seas and human and human trafficking. contraband. The Gurgaon-based data fusion center has information sharing links with 50 countries and multinational/maritime centers, according to its website.

The IFC-IOR “aims to enhance maritime security in the region and beyond, by building a common and consistent maritime picture and acting as a maritime security information hub for the region,” according to website.

The center was established as part of the government’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) for maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. It hosts international liaison officers from partner countries, which include both India’s immediate neighbors in the Indian Ocean region and further afield, including Australia, France, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States.

The other two data fusion centers likely to be involved in this initiative are the Singapore Navy Information Fusion Center and the Australian-sponsored Pacific Fusion Center, established in 2019 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. .

In recent years, the IUUF has been considered a greater threat to maritime states than international piracy. Studies have shown that unregulated and under-reported fishing is a greater challenge than illegal fishing, as it depletes stocks and deprives vulnerable regional economies of an important source of food.

In a January 2021 article, US think tank Brookings called the IUUF a “national security concern” that “may indeed become an increasingly important mission for the United States and its partners and allies in of security in the world, and most certainly those of the India-Pacific.

The document (“National Security Imperative to Tackle IUUF”, Michael Sinclair) claimed that Chinese fishing practices presented a “truly unique and terrible” threat.

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“First, China has the largest fishing fleet in the world. He uses this fleet to devastating effect to meet his population’s enormous demand for protein. It also provides generous subsidies, which has encouraged the rapid proliferation of large “deep water” vessels capable of harvesting staggering amounts of catch in a single voyage, often dragging the ocean floor regardless of type, age or quantity of fish. boundaries. When working together in fleets, these ships are rapacious.”

Ahead of the 2020 presidential election in the United States, an article in The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs stated that “the flagrant and widespread IUU fishing violates sovereign rights, undermines the rule of law and deprives coastal states of a valuable economic resource.

“In this era of global great-power competition, IUU fishing should be considered a threat to international security and should be given the appropriate priority by the next administration, whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden occupy the Oval Office.”

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