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Illegal fishing in N.Korea, Russia waters declines

  • January 25, 2021

An international survey shows illegal fishing activity in North Korean and Russian waters in the Sea of Japan marked significant year-on-year declines in the second half of 2020.

Global Fishing Watch, an international NPO based in the United States, released its analysis of satellite imagery and other data from the squid fishing season between May and December of last year.

The report says that in Russian waters, illegal fishing by North Korean vessels fell dramatically, with days of operation declining nearly 95 percent from the previous year.

It says North Korean authorities, in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, may have implemented stricter rules that prohibited fishermen from taking to offshore waters.

The report also says that in North Korean waters, the number of days Chinese fishing vessels operated illegally dropped about 30 percent from a year earlier.

It adds that about 50 percent fewer Chinese vessels were spotted from September through November, when squid fishing is at its peak.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities have been warning of increasing illegal fishing activity by Chinese vessels in Yamatotai in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.

The area, known as one of the best for fishing, is adjacent to the North Korean and Russian waters that were surveyed.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency had issued warnings to 4,177 Chinese fishing boats as of the end of November. That’s 3.7 times more than in the same period a year before.

A senior researcher at Global Fishing Watch, Jaeyoon Park, told NHK that squid migration patterns change and that a good pattern may drive vessels “to go further to the extreme to fish further, but that cannot be confirmed by satellite data, so it’s difficult to tell.”

He stressed, “The governments, Coast Guard and all these stakeholders should recognize that we need to strengthen monitoring and controlling and surveillance measures to stamp out illegal activity on a permanent basis.”

He added that transparency is the key to the successful elimination of illegal fishing in the region.

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