Greenpeace says Korea hunts tuna too wildly

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Greenpeace says Korea hunts tuna too wildly

Korean fishermen on the open seas are under fire for over-fishing tuna species and endangering other marine animals in the process.

A report released yesterday by the Seoul office of Greenpeace, an international environmental group, said, “Korean pelagic fishing boats are over-hunting tuna with Fish Aggregating Devices [FADs], damaging marine life including dolphins, many of which are captured along with tuna.”

FADs, often used by tuna fishing boats, are tools used to attract pelagic species of fish such as tuna and common dolphinfish, or mahi-mahi. They consist of floats tethered to the ocean floor by concrete blocks.

Greenpeace explained that fish consider FADs as shelters that can protect them from predators.

Small fish gather near FADs, which attracts bigger fish like tuna.

According to the report, FADs also entrap sharks, sea turtles and dolphins, and they are collateral damage in the hunt for tuna. Greenpeace called the FADs “death traps.”

As of 2010, Korea became the second-biggest tuna fishing country, capturing a total of 311,925 tons compared to Japan’s 497,979 tons.

“Japan certainly catches more tuna, but because they hunt for sashimi they don’t use FADs like Korea does,” an official in the tuna industry told the JoongAng Ilbo.

Korean fishing boats generally hunt skipjack tuna, which are commonly sold canned.

Japanese fishermen generally hunt bluefin and yellowfin tuna for sashimi and sushi. The report also said Korea has the highest consumption rate of canned tuna.

Members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed last December to expand the season for not using FADs from three months to four months (from July to October) every year.

“In advanced countries like the U.S. and U.K, canned tuna producers who don’t use FADs advertise that fact on their products for environmentally conscious consumers to see,” said Han Jung-hee, an activist at Greenpeace.

“But none of the Korean companies are doing that.”

By Kang Chan-soo, Choi Ji-young [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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