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S. Korea taken off EU list of illegal fishing countries

All Headlines 19:00 April 21, 2015

SEJONG, April 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has been removed from the European Union's preliminary list of countries engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, the government said Tuesday.

"The EU Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced that it is removing its preliminary designation of our country as an IUU fishing nation as of April 21 (European time)," Seoul's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said in a press release.

The EU's decision to take South Korea off its shortlist of IUU fishing countries apparently comes as the EU recognized Seoul's efforts to eradicate illegal fishing.

Since its preliminary designation as an IUU fishing nation in November 2013, along with Curacao and Ghana, South Korea has taken a series of measures aimed at curbing pirate fishing by its vessels in far seas.

Under a 2013 revision to the law on deep sea fishing, the country raised the maximum fine for IUU fishing to 200 million won (US$185,000) from 30 million won, while also subjecting those convicted of IUU fishing to an additional fine of up to three times the value of their catch.

The ministry has said it will seek to raise the fine to a minimum of 500 million won.

"The country's removal from the list of IUU fishing countries is the result of joint efforts by all related government offices, parliament and the fishing industry," Maritime Minister Yoo Ki-june said while meeting with reporters Monday.

"With its removal from the EU list, the country is now safe from dangers of an export ban or damage to its national image that a final designation as an IUU fishing state would have brought to us."

The government has also required all deep-sea fishing boats to be equipped with a GPS-based tracking device, a move to identify the ships' exact location and movement and thus discourage them from violating territorial waters of other countries.

Just last month, the government announced plans to greatly reduce the number of South Korean flag carriers operating in West Africa, an area said to be most vulnerable to pirate fishing.

Recognizing Seoul's efforts, Washington removed South Korea from its own preliminary list of IUU fishing countries in February.

"The country will work to help eradicate illegal fishing while actively carrying out all its duties as a responsible member of the international community," the maritime ministry said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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