Argentine Coast Guard Fires On Chinese Fishing Vessel

Published Feb 26, 2018 4:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last week, an Argentine coast guard vessel fired shots at a Chinese fishing vessel that was allegedly operating in Argentina's EEZ without authorization. The Argentine forces gave chase for eight hours, but the vessel evaded capture with the help of four other Chinese ships.

On Saturday, the Argentine Naval Prefecture reported that the patrol ship PNA Mantilla encountered the Chinese squid jigger Jing Yuan 626 fishing illegally within the nation's exclusive economic zone. On directions from the head of the naval prefecture, Eduardo Scarzello, and the minister of security, Patricia Bullrich, the Mantilla gave pursuit. 

According to the agency, four other Chinese fishing vessels surrounded the Jing Yuan 626 to prevent her capture. The Mantilla reported that these vessels maneuvered in a manner that endangered safe navigation and risked collision. 

As the Jing Yuan 626 did not heed repeated warnings and continued its attempt to escape, the Mantilla's crew opened fire with single shots aimed above the waterline. This did not slow the Jing Yuan's advance, and Argentina's Ministry of Foreign Affairs eventually asked the naval prefecture to give up the pursuit. 

The nutrient-rich waters off Argentina are home to the world's second-largest squid fishery, and at night, the foreign fleet along the edge of the Argentine EEZ can be seen from space. Fisheries enforcement is a constant effort, and the Argentine Naval Prefecture has had to use force to defend the nation's 200-nm line from unlicensed Chinese operators before. In 2016, the Chinese trawler Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010 attempted to escape an Argentine patrol boat by making "maneuvers designed to force a collision," and the Argentine vessel responded by shooting and sinking her. The Chinese Foreign Ministry "lodged emergency representations with the Argentinian side" and called for an investigation. 

Squid fishing vessels trace the outline of the Argentine and Falkland Islands EEZs, 2012 (NASA)