September 23, 2019 12:28
The U.S. government has reached a preliminary decision to blacklist Korea for illegal fishing.
Although Korea faces no immediate disadvantages, it must come up with reforms within two years or face tough sanctions such as bans on exporting fisheries products to the U.S. and entering its ports.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the announcement on its website, saying it submitted a report to Congress last week. This is the second time since 2013 that the U.S. has threatened to blacklist Korea and comes after the Korean trawlers Southern Ocean and Hongjin 701 were caught fishing illegally off Antarctica in December 2017.
In the report, the U.S. administration said Korea has failed to "apply sufficient sanctions to deter its vessels from engaging in fishing activities that violate conservative and management measures" in the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Korea could have avoided the embarrassment if domestic law enforcement had punished the operators, but they only got a slap on the wrist.
The operators of the Hongjin 701 were cleared completely and the owner of the Southern Ocean was given a suspended sentence.
The U.S. government demanded improvements and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries submitted amended regulations to the National Assembly this April. But lawmakers here never passed them, prompting the U.S. government to conclude that Korea has no real intention to clean up its act.
The decision comes amid strained trade and security ties between Korea and the U.S. The ministry denied it is some kind of pressure to kiss and make up with Japan, saying it was made before Seoul decided to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.
"If the revised law is ratified by the National Assembly, Korea will be taken off the blacklist by 2021," a ministry spokesman claimed.
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