Illegal fishing scandals and human rights abuses linked to South Korea’s fishing industry have earned the country a bad reputation that is jeopardising its fish trade with the US and the EU, says Greenpeace East Asia.
The organisation is urging the Korean government to bring its fishing industry under control and adopt a policy that ensures legal and sustainable fishing or risk a global backlash on its fisheries exports.
The Greenpeace East Asia report, Korea's Distant Water Fisheries: IUU Fishing, International Violations and Human Rights Scandals details 34 cases in which Korean fishing companies engaged in practices including illegal fishing, non-compliance with international fishing standards and human rights abuses in their fleets.
Jiehyun Park, Greenpeace East Asia Oceans Campaigner, said: "The South Korean government must rein in an industry that operates outside of the law. Wide-ranging reforms in South Korea’s distant-water policies are urgently required to rebuild the country's international reputation and ensure a sustainable future for its fishing industry."
In recent years, however, the Korean fleet has been linked to scandals involving exploitative practices in the Southern Ocean, overfishing of toothfish in Antarctica, pirate fishing and forgery in Africa and abuses against fishing crews in the Pacific Ocean.
Greenpeace says that instead of acting decisively and holding thorough investigations, the Seoul government has tolerated and covered up the industry’s wrongdoing, whilst sanctions have not matched the seriousness of the crimes.