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Korea invites China and Japan to help reduce illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea

Wednesday, December 14th 2011 - 17:26 UTC
Full article 2 comments
A Korean Coast Guard officer was killed this week trying to arrest a Chinese illegal vessel (Photo AFP) A Korean Coast Guard officer was killed this week trying to arrest a Chinese illegal vessel (Photo AFP)

South Korea will try to reach an agreement with Japan and China to help reduce illegal fishing in its waters following the death of a South Korean Coast Guard this week during a fight with Chinese fishermen who were caught red-handed operating in the Yellow Sea.

The agreement non binding and at fishing associations level from the three countries commits fishing vessels to voluntary submit to any order or inspection while operating in international waters, according to the Seoul news agency Yonhap.

The initiative which has been promoted since 2001 by the Korean Fishing Association, and supported by its peers from China and Japan remained frozen since the stabbing and death this week of the South Korean Coast Guard, and prompted Seoul officials to request a resumption of discussions.

A spokesperson for the Association told Korean news agency Yonhap that the “agreement would not be linking and will be based on the voluntary participation of the civil organizations” but will help “to reduce illegal fishing and promote cooperation”.

The Korean Fishing association would like the agreement to be signed in 2012, when South Korea will host the annual meeting of the three countries fishing associations.

The officer was fatally stabbed and a colleague wounded as they attempted Monday to detain the skipper of a Chinese boat in the rich fishing grounds of the Yellow Sea. The incident -- the second time since 2008 that a coastguard officer had been killed in a Chinese attack -- has sparked widespread anger.

Twenty Korean lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party signed a resolution urging Beijing to crack down on illegal fishing and calling on Seoul to impose tougher punishment on offenders.

“The Chinese government should offer a responsible apology and vow to prevent a recurrence so that a sacrifice like this... would never be made again,” lead signatory Chung Ok-Nim said in the resolution released Wednesday.

Two coastguard officers have been killed and 28 injured during raids on Chinese fishing boats in the past five years, she said, urging Seoul to strengthen its coastguard and let them use weapons more aggressively.

China's foreign ministry Tuesday expressed “regret” at the officer's death.

Hundreds of coastguard officers and tearful family members attended the victim's funeral in the western port of Incheon Wednesday.

“We will come up with fundamental measures so that a tragedy like this will never take place again,” President Lee Myung-Bak said in a speech delivered by an aide. The officer's three children sobbed as they held a photo of him.

Officials say the Chinese captain accused of stabbing him will face a murder charge in the South while eight crew members are accused of obstruction.

Seoul and Beijing have a bilateral accord which establishes fishing quotas for both countries in their respective exclusive waters but illegally fishing from Chinese vessels in South Korean waters has always been a problem and increasingly.

In the eleven months of this year Korean officials have surprised 493 Chinese vessels fishing illegally, a 46% increase over the same period a year ago. Yonhap further reported that some 2,600 Chinese fishing boats have been caught illegally fishing in the South Korean exclusive economic zone since 2006 and nearly 800 Chinese fishermen have been arrested.

 

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • ChrisR

    The Chinese government will do nothing about this, as they have already demonstrated over several years.

    It's a bit like Argentina: the chinese fisherman want something they can't have so they try to steal it, just like Argentina and the Falklands (there are no Malvinas).

    No wonder Argentina wants the chinese in their country and they are welcome to them. Anything China does for them will undoubtedly come wth 'strings.'

    Dec 15th, 2011 - 12:55 pm 0
  • GeoffWard2

    “2,600 Chinese fishing boats have been caught illegally fishing in the South Korean exclusive economic zone since 2006 and nearly 800 Chinese fishermen have been arrested.”

    TFI/Argentina EEZ fisheries issues are small-beer by comparison.
    But
    (i) illegal fishing across EEZ boundaries and
    (ii) harrasment in transit
    are just as likely to cause deaths here and to trigger international incidents if the parties are so minded.
    This is why the qualities of diplomats and diplomacy are of paramount importance.

    Dec 15th, 2011 - 09:51 pm 0
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