The US has put South Korea on a preliminary list of countries engaged in illegal fishing in a move which could result in trade sanctions on Korean seafood exports if immediate reforms are not undertaken.
Seven Korean and international NGOs are calling on South Korea to urgently undertake reforms to restore its international credibility. NGOs have also called for reforms to build greater transparency in Korean fisheries, including the publication of important information on vessel identity and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing offences to publicly accessible databases.
A key reason for this most recent listing is IUU fishing activities carried out by two Korean distant water fishing vessels in 2017 that violated conservation measures of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
Legal changes pending
Despite commitments made to CCAMLR, South Korea’s legal framework has not yet enabled authorities to sanction vessels engaging in IUU fishing.
Reforms designed to address the failings in the CCAMLR case are currently before Korean parliament but have not yet been approved.
Current laws in the country do not protect consumers from buying seafood products that originate from IUU fishing.
This is the third time this decade that South Korea has been listed by a major economy as a nation associated with illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It follows a similar listing by the US in 2013 and the European Union in the same year.
Less than a year ago, the South Korean government signed a joint statement with the European Union pledging to fight IUU fishing globally.
Anonymous. (2019). US LISTS KOREA FOR ILLEGAL FISHING. [Blog]. US LISTS KOREA FOR ILLEGAL FISHING. Available at: https://www.worldfishing.