International
Concerns raised by the huge increase in Chinese fishing trawlers in the southern Indian Ocean were discussed in the recent coastal security meetings.

India: Spike in Chinese fishing trawlers in southern Indian Ocean cause of concern for security agencies

Security agencies are keeping a tab on these trawlers since they suspect that they could be carrying survey and snooping equipment

The spike in Chinese deep-sea fishing trawlers in the southern Indian Ocean, far from the Chinese coast, has raised concerns within the Indian government and security establishment, according to a report by The Hindu.

The report states that the issue was discussed in the recent coastal security meetings involving the Director-General (DG) of Shipping, the Navy and other stakeholders.

"In the last four years, on an average, at least 500 Chinese trawlers were present in the region and around 32,250 incidents per year were recorded," a source told the newspaper, adding that the trawlers were not, however, in India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

According to the report, there were 1,100 occurrences near Somalia and 1,500 occurrences near the Coast of Oman. These are recordings of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) installed aboard trawlers and ships and recorded when they are activated.

According to the report, Chinese trawlers have institutional backing and they have processing facilities with them that are sold in the vicinity, the source said.

"Some of them could be genuine fishermen, but the question is what are they doing thousands of miles away from China? Is it just fishing?" an official said, according to a report by The Tribune.

The Hindu report states that the maritime movements in the region are tracked by the Navy's Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) located at Gurugram. The AIS information includes the Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, position, course, information regarding the last port visited and destination among other things.

According to the Tribune, security agencies are keeping a tab on these trawlers since they suspect that they could be carrying survey and snooping equipment.