By Kang Yoon-seung
SEJONG, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Thursday it will revamp safety guidelines for deep-sea fishing boats and their crewmen to improve their working environment and better meet international regulations.
Under the plan, South Korea will raise a fund worth 170 billion won (US$146 million) together with shipowners and financial firms to replace fishing boats that are 40 years or older, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The state budget allocated for the fund is 85 billion won.
"Many of the deep-sea fishing boats of South Korea were built in the 1980s and 1990s, and such a deterioration can make them more vulnerable to accidents," an official from the ministry said.
South Korea will also evaluate the safety of fishing boats aged 35 years or older and bolster regulations on used ships that are imported.
With such efforts, the average age of its deep-sea fishing boats will reach 25 by 2025, down five years from the current 30.
South Korea will seek to improve the welfare of crewmen by enhancing their working environment, such as the size of their living space on board.
Other projects include providing the vessels with internet access and test-run telemedicine programs for fishermen.
Working conditions for foreign workers on local fishing boats, who take up a whopping 73 percent of all crewmen, will be reviewed, with Seoul planning to increase the awareness of labor laws for employers.
With the various measures, South Korea plans to join the Cape Town Agreement (CTA) of the International Maritime Organization by 2023, along with the International Labor Organization's convention on fishermen by 2025.
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