France, South Pacific nations to combat ‘predatory’ fishing

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday France and South Pacific nations would launch a South Pacific coastguard network to counter “predatory” behavior, which an adviser said was aimed at illegal fishing.

The United States and allies including France, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, are actively expanding their activity in the Pacific to counter illegal fishing.

Though tiny in landmass, Pacific islands control vast swaths of the resource-rich ocean called Exclusive Economic Zones, forming a formidable boundary between the Americas and Asia.

“To better cope with the predatory logic we are all victims of, I want to boost our maritime cooperation in the South Pacific,” Macron said after a video conference with the leaders of Australia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, and representatives of New Zealand and other Pacific nations.

“We are going to launch a network of coastguards for the South Pacific around three main objectives: information sharing, operational cooperation, and training,” he said.

Macron did not name China in his final remarks. Asked whether the policy was aimed at China’s expansion, a French presidential adviser said it targeted illegal fishing that was “for the most part due to private actors”.

France, which has island territories spanning the Indo-Pacific including Reunion in the Indian Ocean and French Polynesia in the Pacific, has boosted defence ties with Australia and India as part of a move to counter other influences in the region.

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