Korea toughens rules on crackdown of illegal fishing


Korea toughens rules on crackdown of illegal fishing

South Korea allowed its coast guards to engage more aggressively with foreign fishing boats operating illegally in its waters under new guidelines released Tuesday.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Security announced a set of revised rules regarding the Coast Guard’s use of weapons, under which the on-site commanders will exercise the authority to decide whether to fire crew-served weapons in case the foreign boats violently resist crackdown operations.

The new guidelines also allow the commanders to first take necessary measures and then report to superior authority, to enable them to respond more quickly and effectively, according to the ministry.

Previously, the Coast Guard could use weapons when its officers, ships and aircraft were attacked by the boats, but now the law enforcement authorities can use their firearms if fishing boats attempt an assault, the ministry said.

“These guidelines are not new to our officers,” a ministry official said, asking not to be named. “They could fire arms in emergencies, before reporting to the higher authority, but by stipulating them in the new guidelines, officers at the site will feel less burdened when carrying out their operations.”

The new guidelines, which took effect Monday, were introduced as South Korea has been toughening measures against illegal fishing in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) since one of its patrol boats was sunk last month while trying to capture Chinese vessels operating illegally. At the time, the small patrol boat was rear-ended by a bigger Chinese fishing vessel.

Last week, the Coast Guard fired 600-700 bullets from a ship-mounted M60 toward Chinese vessels that were violently interfering in the capture of two fishing boats operating illegally off the western port city of Incheon. No injuries or damage were reported. (Yonhap)