Fewer fish being caught due to frozen seawater

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Fewer fish being caught due to frozen seawater

The cold weather hitting the Korean Peninsula is now to blame for less fish on dinner tables.

Fishing grounds in the southern parts of the country, including Busan and Jeju, are freezing over, preventing fishermen from going out into those areas.

As a result, fish catches have dropped off dramatically. The result could be higher prices at the market.

At the Busan Corporative Fish Market, yesterday’s consignment of fish was 8 tons, the lowest amount since its establishment in 1963. The average amount per day in January is usually between 800 tons and 1,000 tons.

“It’s not only the low temperature but also bad weather conditions [such as strong winds] that are causing a decrease in fish catches,” said Kang Sukyung, a researcher at the National Fisheries Research & Development Institute.

Most fishing boats that went out to sea had to stay away from nearby ports, unable to deal with the bitter cold.

“My father said that he has never experienced such cold weather nor has he seen seawater freeze in his 40 years as a fisherman in Busan,” said Lee Soo-yong, 29, of Busan. Lee added that his father hasn’t gone out fishing for four days.

There have also been reports of a decrease in the number of mackerel. The cold snap has prevented mackerel - usually found in temperate waters - from coming up to the east coast.

“Large fishing boats that usually go out to catch mackerel in the southern seas are hesitant to go out as often, considering the bad weather and recent hike in oil prices [which makes longer outings more expensive],” said Kang, the fish researcher.

By Yim Seung-hye [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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