Korea is seeking a revision of the law so they can confiscate the catch of Chinese trawlers caught illegally fishing in Korea's exclusive economic zone. The Chinese fishermen are seriously depleting stocks by using illegal fine-mesh nets.
Law enforcement authorities can confiscate the catch of trawlers caught in Korean territorial waters, which is treated as stolen goods, but now they want to extend those powers to the entire EEZ.
Chinese trawlermen have usually been fined and released with their boats if caught fishing in the EEZ, but authorities say this is ineffective and they cannot afford to sit by while the country's fishery resources are being depleted.
One unlicensed Chinese fishing boat was seized in late October after illegally fishing in the EEZ which Korea shares with China off Taean, South Chungcheong Province. The Taean Coast Guard towed the boat to shore and sent it back to China after collecting a W50 million (US$1=W1,113) fine. But the coast guard were unable to seize the boatload of yellow corvina they had illegally caught.
Nearly 10 times as many Chinese trawlers are caught fishing in the EEZ than in South Korean territorial waters. Authorities collected W1.069 billion in fines from Chinese fishing boats in October, about eight times more than the W134 million last year.
"Chinese fishermen aren't afraid of crackdowns and readily pay up because they can still earn a lot of money if they sell the fish in China," a prosecutor at the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office said.
The draft law will be submitted to the Justice Ministry soon.