As Gard P&I Club informs, after the fishing ban in China is lifted on September first, operators of ships transiting the area should be aware that there is a risk of collision with fishing vessels.
Particularly, according to the 2023 notice of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, fishing ban in the East and South China Sea between latitudes 26◦ 30’ N and 12◦ N is going to end on 16 August 2023, the ban for the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea North of latitude 35◦ on 1 will be lifted on 1 September 2023. For the remaining sea areas, the Yellow Sea and East China Sea between latitudes 35◦ N and 26◦ 30’ N, the ban will be lifted on 16 September 2023.
Typical causes of collisions with fishing vessels in these waters according to Gard Club:
- Often the vessel is proceeding at high speed, and the engines are not ready for maneuvering
- The watchkeepers on the merchant vessel may be occupied with other non-essential tasks or there may not be enough assistance on the bridge for the OOW, i.e. the manning may be inadequate.
- Fishing vessels in China are often equipped with AIS, however it may be inoperative or transmitting incorrect information.
- The watchkeepers on merchant vessels may try to attract the attention of the fishing vessels through VHF radio, ALDIS lamp or the ship’s whistle/horn. At times, they may not be successful for various reasons.
- Merchant vessels sometimes leave it to the last minute before taking avoiding action.
- Fishing nets are difficult to detect as they may be poorly marked.
Considering the difference in size and momentum between merchant vessels and fishing boats, such incidents can result in not only severe damage to the fishing boats but also loss of life, Gard warns.
As a result, Gard Club recommends the following measures:
- Voyage planning
- Increasing bridge watchkeeping level
- Safe speed
- Use of RADAR/ARPA
- Keeping clear of clusters
- Attracting attention of the boats