New Firepower Manual in Place for Coast Guard against Illegal Fishing
Anchor: The Korea Coast Guard has been toughening up its response against illegal Chinese fishing boats since one of its vessels was sunk last month while conducting crackdown operations. The government on Monday unveiled a new guideline regarding the use of weapons, which clearly states that onsite commanders may decide on the use of weapons and report to their superiors later.
Our Kim In-kyung has more.
Report: [Sound bite: audio footage from Korea Coast Guard body cam video / Nov. 6 (Korean)]
“Four Chinese fishing boats are approaching!”
During a crackdown on illegal Chinese fishing on Sunday, a Korea Coast Guard patrol boat uses water cannons to deter advancing Chinese boats trying to intimidate authorities.
[Sound bite: audio footage from Korea Coast Guard body cam video (Korean)]
“[Coast Guard] Vessel 15-10 is surrounded and threatened!”
Two Chinese fishing boats that used violence against the Coast Guard were seized.
On November first, the South Korean maritime police fired around 670 bullets from a machine gun for the first time against some 30 Chinese fishing boats that threatened Coast Guard vessels.
[Sound bite: Audio recording of M-60 firing during Central Coast Guard crackdown operation (18:47 Nov. 1)]
A total of 54 Chinese boats were seized for illegal fishing in South Korean waters after a South Korean coast guard ship was attacked by Chinese boats and sank last month.
On Tuesday, the government finalized a new weapons manual, allowing the Coast Guard to respond even more effectively against the illegal operations.
Vice Commissioner Lee Choon-jae of the Korea Coast Guard explained that previously, the Coast Guard could only use firepower if it was under attack, but now it can open fire in the event of an imminent attack.
[Sound bite: Vice Commissioner of the Korea Coast Guard Lee Choon-jae – Ministry of Public Safety and Security (Korean)]
“Weapons can be fired after warning broadcasts and warning shots. But the three-tier procedure can be skipped when there is an imminent danger.”
Under the new regulations, the commanding officer on board the ship will decide whether to use heavy artillery. Individual police officers can decide on their own if they should use their handguns and rifles.
The maritime police officers can report their cases after the scuffle.
The government also plans to amend the law to create an immunity clause for the law enforcement officers.
Kim In-kyung, KBS World Radio News.