The European Union on Wednesday postponed its decision on whether to designate South Korea as a country conducting illegal fishing in the deep oceans on the heels of heightened efforts from the government here 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.
In November, the country was issued a preliminary identification, indicating that it is accountable for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in West African waters. Experts refer to the warning as the industry’s yellow card.
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 the preliminary list of illegal fishing states and is expected to make the final decision in October.
In June, an EU delegation visited here for a final review. Since then local authorities have been working to fight illegal fishing. They have recently prosecuted 22 Korean ships 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)