Robbing our fishermen

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Robbing our fishermen

It is shocking that North Korea has sold fishing rights in the rich waters of the East Sea to China after doing the same in the Yellow Sea. According to the government, the North sold the fishing rights in the waters of the East Sea through a brokerage firm over the past several years.

North Korea handed over the right to fish red crabs in the Yellow Sea in the spring, while turning over the rights to fish squid in the East Sea during the summer. Our intelligence authorities believe that the $75 million the North received from China in return for the fishing rights most likely went into the pockets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to help him govern the impoverished country.

After North Korea transferred the rights to the Chinese, over 900 Chinese fishing boats are catching fish in the waters north of the Northern Limit Line, the defactor border. When you combine Chinese ships fishing in the Yellow Sea and East Sea, the total number reaches more than 2,500. Our fishermen grieve over a Chinese fishing armada swarming in nearby waters, as it means a noticeable reduction in their catch.

South Korea uses fishing boats as small as 10 tons to catch squid in the East Sea. China employs trawlers of over 80-tons to comb the seabed. Squid move from the south to the north from May until September and migrate to the south from September to November. If Chinese boats sweep up all kinds of squid before they swim to the south, the amount of our fishermen’s catch decreases remarkably. That does not apply to squid only. Chinese fishermen tend to overfish regardless of the kind of fish. The government must come up with effective ways to help our fishermen survive.

Another problem is the alarming leakage in the united front of economic sanctions against North Korea. Despite sanctions, a huge amount of cash goes to Pyongyang. In early July, the National Intelligence Service reported to the Intelligence Committee of the National Assembly that North Korea earned $30 million by selling fishing rights to China. That amount more than doubled since then.

Even though the North’s bestowing of its fishing rights on other countries is not subject to penalties, our government must raise the issue with Beijing and request it stop funding the Pyongyang regime so handsomely. Pyongyang’s attitudes are contradictory. Though it always insists on national sovereignty and “self-reliance,” it sells its own fishing rights to China to earn cold cash after earlier selling off its abundant minerals. North Korea should be ashamed of itself.


JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 12, Page 34

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