China is deploying a factory ship and a fleet of support vessels to join its existing fishing fleet in the South China Sea amid an ongoing territorial dispute between China and neighboring countries.
The Hainan Baosha 001, a 32,000-ton processing ship, along with a 20,000-ton oil tanker, two 10,000-ton transport vessels and three 3,000 to 5,000-ton supply vessels, will join the 300 to 500 fishing boats in the contested waters, according to the Wen Hui Pao, a Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspaper.

The vessel is China's largest seafood-processing ship and one of only four in the world. It carries four processing factories, 14 production lines and some 600 workers.
The mothership and the other support vessels will provide the necessary facilities to process up to 2,100 tons of seafood per day.

Currently, the Chinese fishing fleet cannot stay long in the region due to the lack of processing facilities. The additional ships will allow the fleet to fish in the area for up to nine months at a time.

Meanwhile, China's State Oceanic Administration agreed "in principle" April 26 to a Hainan provincial government proposal to build a supply dock on the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Hainan Province's Department of Ocean and Fisheries has estimated that the dock will help aquatic production in the area to reach 50 billion yuan (US$7.9 billion), or 2.2 million tons, by 2015.

Taiwan, China and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, which are known as the Jinqing Islands in China, the Shisha Islands in Taiwan and the Duy Mong Islands in Vietnam.

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