South Korea and China will hold a joint inspection of fishing boats operating in their shared waters in the Yellow Sea this week, a move aimed at reducing the number of Chinese ships fishing illegally in South Korean waters, the Seoul government said Sunday.
The week-long joint inspection will begin Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The joint fishing area was set up under the countries' annual fisheries agreement signed in 2001 and is open to any ship from both countries without the need to report to each other's governments.
However, the area is often said to serve as a stopover for a large number of Chinese ships entering South Korea's exclusive waters illegally due to its proximity to South Korea's maritime border.
"As many as 2,000 Chinese ships are said to operate in the joint fishing zone during the catch season while a large number of them are believed to violate the country's exclusive economic zone at night or in high waves when a crackdown is difficult," the ministry said in a press release.
"The upcoming joint inspection is expected to help greatly reduce the number of Chinese ships fishing illegally in the country's exclusive waters."
In 2012 alone, 467 Chinese fishing boats were seized while fishing illegally in South Korean waters.
The number of Chinese fishing ships illegally entering South Korea's exclusive waters is also said to be rising with over 29,600 ships believed to have crossed the country's western maritime border in the second half of 2014, up more than 16 percent from some 25,400 in the same period in 2013.
This week's joint inspection will be the second of its kind since China agreed to such measures last year.
Illegal fishing by Chinese ships has become a source of diplomatic tension between the two countries on several occasions.
In 2011, a South Korean coast guard officer was killed by Chinese fishermen during a raid in South Korean waters.
Last year, a 45-year-old Chinese captain of a ship was killed while resisting a similar raid. (Yonhap)