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Chinese fishing boats' requests for access to S. Korea's EEZ dips in 2016

All News 08:34 January 22, 2016

SEJONG, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- Chinese fishing boats requesting access to operate in South Korea's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) has dipped in 2016, the government said Friday.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said the number of boats that applied for permits stood at 1,502, down 4 percent from 1,564 in 2015.

The fishing quota given to these boats also decreased 9 percent to 54,603 tons, from 59,996 tons in the previous year.

All ships that want to fish in South Korea's EEZ must get prior permits that they must show to fishery patrols and Coast Guard cutters. Failure to do so can lead to the boat and crew being detained.

Chinese boats for years have favored fishing grounds near South Korea because excessive fishing has depleted stocks near their own shores. The proximity of South Korea to Chinese ports makes the country's EEZ attractive.

The ministry said 911 ships that applied to fish in South Korea's exclusive region this year, accounting for 61 percent, operated in the same waters in 2015.

"If the 558 boats that were granted access last year but had their permits revoked after they engaged in illegal fishing activities are counted, almost all boats that fished in South Korea's EEZ in 2015 are back in 2016," an official said.

He also said that while there is a slight dip so far, the actual number of Chinese boats that eventually fish in South Korean waters this year may be on par with 2015, since squid catching boats that only start operations in October have yet to apply for permission.

The ministry said most boats that applied for permits said they will catch corbinas, Spanish mackerel and hairtails, with most coming from the Liaoning, Shandong and Zhejiang provinces.

Effort will be made before the start of the fishing season to get Chinese fishermen to attend programs outlining the need for sustainable fishing practices, it said, adding the ministry said it will also strengthen monitoring of illegal activities and clamp down on violators that abuse their rights.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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