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South Korea and China to Begin Joint Surveillance Against Illegal Fishing

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SOUTH KOREA - South Korea and China will launch joint surveillance against illegal fishing in waters shared by the two countries starting from October, the South Korean government said Sunday.

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The first-ever joint crackdown on illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea will be launched in October with patrol ships from both countries inspecting fishing boats operating in a joint fishing area there, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The agreement came at a meeting held in China's Weihai this week, YonhapNewsAgency reports.

"Starting from next year, the two countries will hold two to three joint inspection tours, especially during fishing seasons that attract a large number of Chinese boats," the ministry said in a press release.

South Korea has been struggling to keep Chinese fishing boats from fishing illegally in its territorial waters. An initial agreement to jointly crack down on illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea was reached at the 2013 annual fisheries meeting, under which the Chinese government also agreed to require Chinese fishing boats to be equipped with an automatic identification system.

The oceans ministry said the agreement will be implemented in 2015, allowing the country to identify and locate Chinese boats operating in its waters.

South Korea allows a set number of Chinese fishing boats to enter its waters under an annual fisheries agreement with China, but hundreds of Chinese boats are seized each year for fishing without a license in South Korean waters or for catching more than their permit allows.

In 2012 alone, 467 Chinese boats were seized for fishing illegally in South Korean waters.

Efforts to crack down on Chinese fishing boats also often lead to violent clashes that have resulted in casualties on both sides.