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Korea Looks to Pacific Nations for Tuna Supply

by the Fish Site Editor
12 November 2009, at 12:00am

SOUTH KOREA - South Korea will introduce a plan to foster the farming of tuna, one of its main fishery exports.

The government will introduce a plan to both promote the farming of tuna -- the country's main seafood export item -- and combat increasing international restrictions on tuna fishing, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MIFAFF) announced on Tuesday (10 November).

South Korea will also support fellow coastal nations to protect their tuna resources and develop aquaculture projects reports Fis-net.com.

Tuna exports yielded USD 332 million in 2008, when Korean fishing vessels landed 290,000 tonnes of the fish. This amount constituted 42 per cent of the country's overall deep-sea harvests.

Because of increasingly depleted tuna stocks worldwide many organisations and countries are endorsing a fishing ban for species like bluefin tuna. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), which handles fishing in the southern Pacific, consequently wants to cut the bigeye tuna fishing quota by an annual 10 per cent over the next three years.

Korea currently fishes 95 per cent of its tuna supply; it has since been advancing its aquaculture efforts says Fis-net.com.

The tuna farming project located off Jeju Island is proving successful. The farm’s three net cages host a total of 400 juvenile bluefin tunas.

Back in September, scientists at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) said that commercial tuna sales would begin around 2015. Korea hopes to export the fish to Japan, China and other Asian nations.

“Complete tuna farming will be possible when the fish start to produce fertile roe, and Korea will also be a resource-developing country of tuna by releasing artificially produced roe into the ocean,'' stated Park Jong-gook, the minister's manager of marine policies.

International tuna conservation efforts will continue to grow and gather speed as additional tuna stocks face depletion. Because almost 80 per cent of the country's tuna is fished in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of small island countries, it will be in Korea’s best interest to cooperate with them, noted ministry officials.

Last September, an economic cooperation summit with an association of Polynesian countries was hosted by the ministry. They agreed to create a consultative body to strengthen economic collaboration between Korea and the eight member countries: Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.

The ministry said that official development assistance will be expanded for the aforementioned nations.

the Fish Site Editor