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Nations agree on tackling illegal fishing

Nations agree on tackling illegal fishing

Updated: 2012-04-17 08:10

By Zhao Shengnan and Jin Zhu (China Daily)

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China and South Korea have agreed to take tough measures against illegal fishing and maritime violence against a background of increasing disputes over the past year, according to the two countries' fisheries management bodies.

The two neighbors agreed on a detained boat's payment of bail and discretionary punishments to those fishermen who cooperate with boarding inspections by police, China Fisheries Law Enforcement Command said on Monday.

During a meeting in China's coastal city of Qingdao last week, representatives of the command met with officials from South Korea's Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to discuss using vessel-monitoring systems and recording fishing logs employing GPS technology, to maintain maritime order.

China also briefed South Korea about the installation of video-monitoring systems on Chinese boats for the safety of fishing, a command spokesman said.

These moves came amid increasing maritime disputes between the two countries in the Yellow Sea, especially over the death of a South Korean coastguard officer last December during a raid on a Chinese boat.

Earlier this month, South Korean prosecutors demanded capital punishment for the Chinese captain, who admitted to the murder after his arrest, according to the Seoul-based Yonhap News. Sentencing is scheduled for Thursday.

The South Korean Coast Guard captured or sent back more than 470 Chinese fishing ships in 2011, which had illegally crossed into South Korean waters in search of seafood in local waters, Yonhap said.

The Sino-South Korea Fishery Agreement, signed in 2000, defined fishing areas. In the first year after the agreement took effect in 2001, 2,796 Chinese fishing boats and 1,402 South Korean fishing vessels were permitted to enter the sea areas under each other's administration, with a permit.

A number of Chinese fishing vessels had to retreat from the fishing ground near the South Korean coast to reduce the fishing output in these areas, according to the agreement.

This agreement was considered provisional on fisheries at the beginning, but the territories did not change when China and South Korea established exclusive economic zones in 2005. Under the International Maritime Law, a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources in such a sea zone.

In 2011, China and South Korea agreed to reduce China's fishing quota in South Korea's exclusive economic zones by 2,500 tons - to 62,500 tons in 2012 - with the number of Chinese fishing boats allowed to operate in South Korean waters cut to 1,650.

The regulations on punishing illegal fishing and adopting technologies are constructive ways to avoid conflicts, especially in disputed areas, but what's more important is the effective implementation of these regulations, said Wang Fan, assistant president with China Foreign Affairs University.

Contact the writers at zhaoshengnan@chinadaily.com.cn and jinzhu@chinadaily.com.cn