South asks China to police illegal fishing boats

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South asks China to police illegal fishing boats

Seoul has officially requested that Beijing take strong measures against Chinese vessels that continue to illegally fish in South Korean territorial waters in the Yellow Sea and the inter-Korean neutral area of the Han River estuary.

The request came during the 18th bilateral director general meeting on consular affairs in Beijing on Wednesday. Seoul was represented by Kim Wan-joong, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ director general of the Overseas Residents and Consular Affairs Bureau.

Kim met with his Chinese counterpart, Guo Shaochun.

According to a press release from the South’s Foreign Ministry, China explained that it is paying “close attention” to illegal fishing activities in the Han River estuary, and that both its central and regional governments have practical measures combined with education for the fishermen.

Seoul replied that Beijing should share with Korean authorities what actual measures have been taken and said it should also enhance crackdowns on interloping fishing boats.

China expressed concern about the safety of the fishermen and the Korea Coast Guard’s use of firearms.

In response to this, Seoul emphasized the Coast Guard uses firearms for its own safety. Seoul added that China should implement “concrete measures preventing illegal fishing activities to avoid such unexpected outcomes.”

A ministry spokesperson said that although the annual meeting is normally about consular affairs, this year’s talk was centered mostly on illegal cross-border fishing.

Seoul has been regularly raising the issue, but widespread public concern over the increasing number of trespassing Chinese boats might have prompted the government to discuss the issue and its efforts in more detail.

BY YOO JEE-HYE [lee.dongeun@joongang.co.kr]

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