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Chinese trawlers operate in Sea of Oman under Iran flag: Minister

Iran’s minister of agriculture has said that Chinese trawlers have been operating in the Sea of Oman under the Iranian flag and no direct permission has been issued for them to fish in the region.

Mahmoud Hojjati said on Tuesday that Iran had not issued any permission for the Chinese trawlers to fish in the Sea of Oman, insisting that foreigners had been operating in the region while observing legal and environmental procedures defined by the Iranian authorities.

Hojjati, who was responding to questions in the parliament regarding the presence of Chinese fishermen in the southern Iranian waters, said boats fishing in the Sea of Oman should either be owned by the Iranians or be chartered by the Iranian entities, adding that all trawlers operating in the region have to sail under the Iranian flag.

He said licenses issued for 12 fishing vessels had been revoked after it became known that they had violated the legal standards.

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The minister said of the total 120 trawlers authorized to fish in the region, some 90 were Iranian, adding that the number of foreign staff recruited on the Iranian vessels to help fishing of lanternfish in the region had also reduced by around 80 percent compared to several years ago.

Seeking to ease concerns that excessive fishing in the Sea of Oman had led to reduced stocks of lanternfish in the region, Hojjati said there was around 2.3 million tons of the fish in those waters of which Iran had allowed tapping into 300,000 tons.

He said fishing in the Sea of Oman is directly supervised by international organizations to ensure that environmental standards are observed.

The minister insisted that deep-sea fishing for lanternfish in the Sea of Oman could “naturally” result in marginal fishing of other creatures which he said could not pose a major threat to the marine life in the region.

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