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South Korea Intensifies Penalties Against Illegal Fishing

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SOUTH KOREA - South Korea is moving to significantly strengthen its penalties against illegal fishing by its vessels in high seas that include more than doubling its minimum fine for pirate fishing, a government official said.

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Under a revision to the law on deep-sea fishing, already submitted to the National Assembly, the country seeks to increase the minimum fine for illegal fishing to 500 million won ($448,350), according to the official from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, reports YonhapNewsAgency.

"Maintaining a constant watch against illegal fishing in high seas is not easy as such activities are done in distant waters," the official said, asking not to be identified. "The most effective way to prevent repeat offenses is to increase punishment."

The move also comes as South Korea seeks to erase its name from the European Union's preliminary list of illegal fishing nations.

Its efforts have so far included boosting the maximum fine for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from 30 million won to 200 million won, along with a fine of up to three times the value of the catch, which had not existed until the latest revision to the law on deep-sea fishing was legislated in July 2013.

Under the newly proposed revision, the country again seeks to increase the minimum fine to five times the value of the catch resulting from IUU fishing, according to the ministry official.

The United States has also included South Korea on its preliminary list of IUU countries, but its latest report, published last month, noted the efforts taken by the South Korean government may effectively curb illegal fishing.

Both the US and the EU are expected to announce their final lists of IUU countries early next year.

Once a country is officially named an IUU state, the country's fishery products may be barred from the US and European markets while their vessels believed to be engaged in IUU fishing may also be prohibited from making port calls in those regions.

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