The Nov. 14 Mainichi and Yomiuri report from Japan and Shanghai respectively that the Chinese authorities are identifying and calling back the coral poaching boats back to their home provincial ports in Fujian and Zhejiang. The Yomiuri carries an account of a Nov. 12 Fujian online news service report that says four poachers have been indicted. Peace dividend from the Sourpussy vs. Mr. Whatever photo op in Beijing? Perhaps. What matters to me, honestly, is that my The Diplomat post (faulty link restored) made it online with one day to spare before the media story broke out and that the media report corroborates three verifiable conjectures of mine while refuting none of them.
1) “…the high likelihood of these poachers operating in groups…”
I made this conjecture because of the well-known propensity of Chinese fishing vessels to work in packs as well as the obvious dangers of working solo among lawless competitors. Geographical concentration suggests strongly that this is the case.
2) “The Chinese authorities know the identities of the detained vessels and their crew members…”
This was an easy call to make because the Japanese authorities would obviously be providing ID information to their Chinese counterparts.
3) “The poaching will abate fairly soon.”
Actually, I didn’t realize that it was already happening (the Mainichi reports says that the number of observed vessels peaked on Oct. 30 at 212, declined from there, and dropped significantly to 141 on Nov. 10, the day of the Abe-Xi meet-and-kinda greet), wand I had qualified my conjecture with the weasel word “fairly.” But I’m going to let myself off on this one, with the admonition to take note that the Chinese authorities appear to have a pretty good handle on their ocean-going vessels that they can wield when it suits them to do so.
The last point suggests, though, that one conjecture is likely to be proven wrong, namely:
…a few vessels will continue to show up…
I’ve changed my mind.
Correction: Yomiuri article appeared on the 13th, the same day as The Diplomat post.