Warm climate sees fisheries hit a 17-year bounty

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Warm climate sees fisheries hit a 17-year bounty

With an increased variety of fish amid rising ocean temperatures, the country’s fishery production has hit a 17-year high.

According to Statistics Korea yesterday, the total fishery production stood at 1.84 million tons from January through June this year, growing by 71,000 tons or 4 percent from the same period last year. The value of the total fishery production stood at 3.68 trillion won ($3.26 billion), up 10 million won.

Fish farms enjoyed a bumper first half, marking the largest production since 1995 with a wider variety of fish, the statistics office said.

The main contributors to the increased production are mackerel, horse mackerel and squid.

These thrive in warm currents and have made their way in greater numbers to the waters off the Korean peninsula due to a recent rise in sea temperatures.

The amount of mackerel caught in the nation’s territorial waters jumped 65 percent in the first half compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, production of cutlass fish, a popular choice among Koreans, decreased 19 percent during the same period. Production has now fallen to one-third the rate seen in 2010.

According to the market, the price of a 4-kilogram (8.8-pound) box of cutlass fish recently leapt 56 percent as the fish population continued to decline.

Eel numbers are also shrinking. The amount of eels caught fell 43 percent to 1,870 tons this year, leading to a 26 percent hike in the wholesale price for 1 kilogram of the fish.

Both cutlass fish and eels were affected by overfishing of their young, the agency said.

Production of fisheries at sea farms in shallow waters also grew about 4 percent on-year to surpass 1 million tons. A good seaweed harvest contributed to the growth, the statistics office said.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]
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