U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Marine Policy 40 (2013) 187–193; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.12.007


In almost all of the maritime territorial disputes in East Asia, fisheries questions play a significant role. One need only consider that fishing has been at the heart of serious wrangling among East Asian states from the Yellow Sea, through the East China Sea, and down to the South China Sea in recent years. Chinese fisheries policy might be critical to the possibilities for peaceful resolution of the many maritime territorial disputes in East Asia. Moreover, China’s status as the world’s largest fishing power also means that Beijing’s inclination to accept and practice global fisheries norms could mark a giant step forward for environmental protection of the oceans in the coming century. Drawing on a wide array of unique Chinese Mandarin-language sources, this study seeks to explore the often noted ‘‘implementation gap’’ in Chinese fisheries enforcement practices. The study reveals that Beijing is making gradual and earnest efforts to comply with international environmental norms with respect to fisheries. That is a positive development for the health of the world’s oceans, but some of these same policies may also have the impact of aggravating tense maritime disputes in the region as well.