CIRA China analyst Lauren Barney has authored a chapter in the edited volume The South China Sea: Maintaining Peace, Preventing War: Conflict Management Program Field Trip to China concerning Chinese maritime militias and fisheries in the South China Sea:
Fish is the main current and volatile resource driver in the South China Sea (SCS) dispute. Expanding fisheries in a semi-enclosed sea drives a maritime “land grab.” Subsea mineral resources, national sovereignty and maritime commercial transport are all sources of regional maritime friction, but the volatility of fish supply escalates tensions rapidly. Since fishing resources are becoming scarcer and face depletion in many areas in geographical proximity to China, competition for aquatic resources is growing. In areas of the SCS with overlapping sovereignty claims, maritime security and naval forces assert national sovereignty to protect domestic fishing interests. Fishing in these areas draws neighbors into active confrontation. Therefore, regional industry cooperation is essential to remove multi-state rivalry.
To read more, see: https://www.amazon.com/South-China-Sea-Maintaining-Preventing/dp/154470030X