Illegal Chinese fishermen face dual punishment

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Illegal Chinese fishermen face dual punishment

South Korea and China agreed to take tough action to curb illegal Chinese fishing near the inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea, the Seoul government said yesterday.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that under the latest agreement, Chinese boats will face “dual punishment” for operating without permission near the Northern Limit Line and for other serious offenses, including resisting arrest.

The pact reached during the four-day talks in Qingdao, China last week, calls for Seoul to hand over offenders to Chinese authorities for additional punishment after taking administrative and legal actions against crew members and boats.

“Chinese authorities will provide feedback on what additional actions they have taken against violators, and agreed to make it impossible for such vessels to operate in South Korea’s exclusive economic zone for up to three years,” a ministry official said.

He said tough punitive measures will also be taken against boats that use force to escape capture by the South Korean Coast Guard and disregard orders to pull over for inspection.

“In the case of boats getting away, the two sides reached an understanding to accept photos and video images of violators so legal action can be carried out later,” he said.

The official also said that Chinese officials will take steps to ferret out fishing boats that camouflage their names and registration numbers by carrying out on-site inspection of ships docked in ports.

In the past, some illegal fishing vessels intentionally hid their names and forged their registration numbers to escape identification.

The ministry has been calling for fundamental solutions to illegal fishing by Chinese boats along the NLL, which is depleting fisheries’ resources and could lead to confrontations between the navies of the two Koreas. Cases of North Korean patrol boats chasing fishing boats over the demarcation line have increased since the 1990s.

A total of three skirmishes have been fought along the sea border since June 1999, with the latest taking place last November.

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