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South Korea, China to Launch Joint Crackdown on Illegal Fishing

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SOUTH KOREA - South Korea and China have agreed to launch joint efforts before the year's end to curb illegal fishing in their shared waters, the South Korean government said Monday.

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"The countries agreed to begin their joint inspection of fishing activities using their surveillance ships in the joint fishing zone at the earliest date possible before the end of the year," the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said in a press release.

The agreement came at the end of four-day talks last week that sought to renew the countries' bilateral fisheries agreement, reports YonhapNewsAgency.

Under the fisheries agreement for this year, signed in 2013, the countries had agreed to begin a joint inspection of ships entering their shared body of waters in the Yellow Sea last month.

Under the renewed annual fisheries agreement, the countries have also agreed to set up and operate what they called "check points" for fish carriers starting December 20. The check points, where the amount of catch by each ship entering the countries' joint or exclusive waters is confirmed, had also been planned for this year under the 2013 agreement.

"This year's fisheries talks focused on strengthening the countries' joint crackdown on illegal fishing as part of efforts to implement the agreement between the countries' heads of state at their summit in June 2013," the ministry said.

In addition to joint efforts, the countries agreed to switch to an electronic permit system from the current paper-based permit system to help prevent their fishermen from duplicating or fabricating fishing permits.

Also to help encourage the use of the automatic identification system by fishing boats, the countries will offer various incentives to those that voluntarily equip the system, allowing the countries to easily identify and locate boats operating in their waters.

Under the agreement for 2015, the countries' fishing quota in each other's exclusive waters will remain unchanged from this year at 60,000 tons, with the number of ships allowed to enter each other's areas also frozen at 1,600, according to the ministry.

The ministry said the number of Chinese fishing boats entering South Korean waters had reached nearly 12,000 a year before such an agreement was first signed in 2013, with the amount of their combined catch exceeding four million tons per year.

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