SOUTH KOREA - The South Korean government is planning to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by South Korean fishing boats operating in West Africa by greatly reducing their number.
Under its plan, the government will provide a total of 9.9 billion won (US$8.99 million) to those that voluntarily halt fishing activities in waters off West Africa and retire their aged vessels there, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, YonhapNewsAgency reports.
The move comes as suspected IUU fishing by South Korean ships in the region has been largely blamed for the country's preliminary designation as an illegal fishing state by the European Union.
The EU recently began its final deliberation to remove South Korea from its shortlist of IUU countries after the country took a series of painstaking measures to curb pirate fishing that included a 2013 revision to the law on deep-sea fishing that raised the maximum fine for IUU fishing from 30 million won to 200 million won, along with an additional fine of up to three times the value of catch from illegal fishing.
The United States, which had included South Korea on its own list of IUU fishing countries in 2013, has removed the country from its list.
South Korean officials have said they expected a similar decision to emerge from the ongoing deliberation by the EU, which will likely take about two months.
Under its latest measure, the government seeks to cut the number of South Korean ships authorized to operate in West African waters from the current 45 to 27, although only 11 are now actually operating in the region.
"The government will quickly carry out the project as the plan to reduce the number of ships engaged in deep-sea fishing in West Africa comes as part of efforts to fundamentally eradicate illegal fishing in the area," the ministry said in a press release.
Also from now, deep-sea fishing will only be allowed in countries with which South Korea has a formal fisheries agreement, it added.
Until now, the government only checked to see if South Korean ships entering other countries' exclusive waters had paid the required fees to the countries.
Such a regulation has been accused of being unable to prevent IUU fishing as many politically unstable West African states often lack a legitimate or strong enough government to enforce unified regulations.
TheFishSite News Desk