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Fishing Industry Scandals May Threaten South Korea's International Trade

17 April 2013

SOUTH KOREA - Illegal fishing scandals and human rights abuses linked to South Korea’s fishing industry have earned the country a bad reputation that is jeopardising its fish trade with the US and the EU, Greenpeace East Asia said.

Greenpeace is urging the Korean government to bring its fishing industry under control and adopt a policy that ensures legal and sustainable fishing or risk a global backlash on its fisheries exports.

The Greenpeace East Asia report, Korea's Distant Water Fisheries: IUU Fishing, International Violations and Human Rights Scandals, was discussed today in the Standing Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Korean National Assembly. This report details 34 cases in which Korean fishing companies engaged in practices including illegal fishing, non-compliance with international fishing standards and human rights abuses in their fleets.

"The South Korean government must rein in an industry that operates outside of the law. Wide-ranging reforms in South Korea’s distant-water policies are urgently required to rebuild the country's international reputation and ensure a sustainable future for its fishing industry," said Jiehyun Park, Greenpeace East Asia Oceans Campaigner.

Korea is a leading distant-water fishing power with 359 vessels operating in every ocean of the world. In recent years, however, the Korean fleet has been linked to scandals involving exploitative practices in the Southern Ocean, overfishing of toothfish in Antarctica, pirate fishing and forgery in Africa, and cruel abuses against fishing crews in the Pacific Ocean, claimed Greenpeace.

Instead of acting decisively and holding thorough investigations, the Seoul government has tolerated and covered up the industry’s wrongdoing, whilst sanctions have not matched the seriousness of the crimes, Greenpeace said.

Korean parliamentarians reacted swiftly to the report, calling for policy reforms and a transparent monitoring systems. MP Jae-kwon Shim, a member of the Standing Committee, also raised the issue of IUU activities at the Standing Committee meeting.

"The government should prioritise stopping illegal fishing activities, unsustainable fishing practices and human rights abuses by Korean fleets. Unless action is taken we expect an international backlash with grave consequences for the South Korean fish market. Both the US and the EU will be likely to oppose these destructive and unethical practices because of their progressive legislations and increasing demand for sustainable and ethical seafood products," Jiehyun Park said.

Greenpeace is campaigning for an end to illegal and unsustainable fishing including destructive fishing methods and for a global network of marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the world’s oceans, both necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health and to maintain living seas and ample fish for future generations.

TheFishSite News Desk

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