S Korean fish exports to face EU ban

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 05:00 02/12/2013

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A significant portion of New Zealand's $1.4 billion annual fish exports face a European Union ban if it has been caught by South Korean vessels.

The EU last week warned they would designate South Korea as an illegal fishing nation, partly in response to illegal fishing and extensive human rights and labour abuses aboard Korean boats in New Zealand waters.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said it had to change or end up on the blacklist.

"We continue to put pressure on the countries which are fuelling the supply chain of illegal fishing."

The EU designation, if extended to a full ban, not only applies to fish exports direct to Europe but also on any catch by Korean boats in New Zealand and processed in China, Korea and elsewhere.

South Korean boats have made up the majority of the foreign charter vessels used to fish Maori quota including hoki and southern blue whiting. Some still operate despite the New Zealand government decision to have all foreign fishing vessels reflagged to New Zealand by 2016.

Seoul says it is trying to clean up its notorious industry which has seen boats sink in New Zealand waters, crew killed, abuse of low-paid crews and various forms of "illegal, unreported and unregulated" (IUU) fishing.

The EU has banned imports from Belize, Cambodia and Guinea-Conakry for IUU fishing and has yellow-carded South Korea, along with Ghana and Curacao for their failures to fight illegal fishing.

They have six months to clean up or face further action.

South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries says they have revised deep-sea fishing laws.

An official quoted by Yonhap news agency says that as of next year all South Korean vessels fishing overseas must be equipped with a vessel monitoring system.

It had set up a centre to keep a close watch on all overseas fishing by South Korean ships.

The EU imported more than 50 million tonnes of fisheries products in 2011 worth €18.5 billion (NZ$30.8b). Fairfax NZ

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- Fairfax Media

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