The European Union’s legislative commission on Wednesday postponed its decision on whether to designate South Korea as a country conducting illegal deep-sea fishing on the heels of heightened efforts from the local government to hold off related sanctions.
“After the European Commission had warned three countries ― Curacao, Ghana and South Korea ― that they were not doing enough to fight illegal fishing in November 2013, it will now grant each country an extra six months. The Commission will review their progress made at the end of this period,” the EU said.
Given another six months, Korea may be able to “improve the situation” and possibly even deter the EU-led sanctions against fishery product exports to EU member states that would lead to losses exceeding $100 million per year, the commission said.
In November, the country was issued a preliminary identification, indicating that it was accountable for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in West African waters.
If designated an illegal fishing nation, Korean vessels would be prohibited from entering EU state ports, in addition to being subject to an export ban.
Experts also said the designation could trigger other countries including the U.S. to follow suit. The U.S. has put Korea on its preliminary list of illegal fishing states and is expected to make a final decision in October.
Since June, when an EU delegation visited here for a final review, local authorities have been working to fight illegal fishing. They recently prosecuted 22 Korean vessels believed to have conducted illegal fishing activities, while also tightening the Distant Water Fisheries Development Act.
Under the revision, illegal fishing can result in a fine of up to 5 million won ($4,900), while ship operators would lose their licenses if caught a third time.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com