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Experts urge for end to illegal fishing



In a conference co-hosted by government and private organizations Tuesday, ocean experts urged stronger efforts from governments and businesses to combat unsustainable and illegal fishing across the region.

Co-hosted by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Environmental Justice Foundation and World Wide Fund for Nature, the two-day conference began in Seoul under the title, “Building Ocean Health: Sharing Experience to Move Toward Sustainable Fisheries Management.”

“If it were a country, the ocean would have been the world’s seventh-largest economy with the overall value of $24 trillion and the yearly value of goods and services of $2.5 trillion,” said John Tanzer, the leader of Oceans Practice, WWF International. “The ocean is an enormous engine for economic sustainability.” 



Participants attend a conference on the ocean’s health co-hosted by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Environmental Justice Foundation and World Wide Fund for Nature in Seoul on Tuesday. Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald
Participants attend a conference on the ocean’s health co-hosted by the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Environmental Justice Foundation and World Wide Fund for Nature in Seoul on Tuesday. Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald


However, ocean resources are shrinking fast partly due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which is estimated to amount to global economic losses of up to $23 billion.

To tackle such fishing practices, Steve Trent, executive director of EJF, encouraged technological measures that have become cheaper, such as vessel monitoring systems, and also to strengthen measures at ports.

“Countries should share data on fishing vessels and publish public license lists right now,” Trent said.

Even though there has been some progress, people continue to treat the ocean as infinite, treating it as a dumping ground, Tanzer said.

As a result, the ocean has suffered catastrophic losses, with at least 40 percent of its species disappearing since 1970s. “We have to be in the business of restoring the ocean, not just scaling back from what we are doing now.”

He said countries have to recognize the value of oceans in terms of economic sustainability, and cooperation between regional countries is critical.

To boost cooperation, government officials from Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Japan shared their experiences of combating illegal fishing during the conference.

South Korea was only removed from the European Commission’s list of those failing to combat unreported and unregulated fishing in April 2015. Cho Shin-hee, director general of the Overseas Fisheries and International Policy Bureau of the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said South Korea has strengthened its legal framework and state control over its ports and market, as part of its fight against such fishing.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)

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