Korea should strengthen marine R&DToday, Korea is one of the top ten marine powers in the world. Since its liberation, Korea’s economy has been export-driven, and the growth was supported by competitive marine transport industry. Currently, Korea is the sixth-largest exporter, has the fifth most transport ships and manages the fourth-largest container volumes.
However, the marine and fisheries industries are in jeopardy. With global growth low, the transport volume in shipping industry marine is decreasing. Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy is seriously hurting Korean economy, where 99.7 percent of imports and exports are transported by ships. The fishery industry is also suffering. Last year, due to illegal operation of Chinese fishing boats and the rise in sea surface temperature, coastal fishing output fell below 100 tons for the first time in 44 years.
The fourth industrial revolution is surging into the seas of the Republic of Korea, and we must respond to new challenges. If Korea is not prepared, improving the competitiveness of marine industries may not be possible. The core engine of the fourth industrial revolution in the sea is science and technology R&D, and only 3 percent of Korea’s total R&D is allocated to marine fields. We need to expand the R&D investment in marine fields to the level of the developed countries and pursue future industries and job creations through nurturing new marine industries using marine recycling, high-tech fish farming and using marine cultural contents.
Industry insiders hope that the president will install a national marine commission to establish cooperative system among related ministries led by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. We hope for the day when Korea successfully reestablishes marine industries with new and strong governance and becomes a main player in the 21st century age of discovery.
*Researcher at Korea Maritime Institute.