In this regard, Siddharth Mahajan, Loss Prevention Executive at Gard P&I Club, in cooperation with Huatai Insurance Agency, Wang Jing & Co. and Worldwide Maritime Consultants, discussed the underlying reasons for collisions with fish farms in Chinese waters and the actions available to reduce the risk.
The primary reasons can be summed up as follows:
a. Inadequate information available to mariners on the location of the fishery farms for incorporating such in passage plans. This can be due to any or all of the following:
- No navigational warnings/notices published by the local MSA.
- Where navigation warnings/notices have been published, it is only available on local MSA’s website and in the Chinese language.
- The published warnings/notices indicate only one position without giving the actual geographical extent of the fishery farm.
- Information sent by the local agent prior to the vessel’s arrival does not provide details of the location of newly established farms.
- VTS and pilots are not aware of newly established farms. It should also be mentioned that some farms may be outside VTS coverage areas and therefore the VTS may not be in a position to advise on these farms.
b. Vessels may not be able to avoid entering fishery farms due to:
- Farms being set up in close proximity to port approaches, main navigable channels and anchorages and thus giving vessels little or no room to maneuver.
- Vessels deviating from the defined or customary navigation channel to avoid immediate danger or due to heavy traffic (including high density of fishing vessels).
- Boundaries not conspicuously marked by the farm owners, therefore members of the bridge team may not be able to see them.
How to reduce the risk of collisions with fishery farms
- Proper lookout is very important.
- Radars must be set up appropriately for scanning smaller objects, such as by increasing the pulse length and lowering the range scale.
- Every attempt should be made to stay within the defined or customary navigation channel. Any departure from this should be made only after ascertaining that no farms have been established in those waters.
- As far as possible the vessel should not proceed at high speed and must have her anchors ready for use should the vessel enter a fish farm.
- Navigating officers should pay attention to the special notes on charts as they may mention areas where fish farming is prevalent.
- Known fishery farms must be marked on charts.
- Local agents must be contacted to obtain up-to-date information on not only the boundaries of the fishery farms but also the preferred track to be followed by the vessel when approaching/exiting port or anchorages.
- VTS and pilots must also be asked to provide information on the existence of fishery farms along the way and all such communication must be logged.
- Download local Notices to Marines from the MSA website to know which farms have been newly established.
- It is worth mentioning that we have been informed that China MSA is working on removing unauthorized fishery farms and our correspondent, Huatai Insurance Agency, confirms that these works have been completed in the Dalian area.