The Ministry of Oceans & Fisheries of South Korea announced on October 16 that the South Korean and Chinese government’s plan to guide fishing activities in South Korea’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from October 19 to 23 has been cancelled.
The plan, which was to be carried out by South Korean and Chinese public officials respectively boarding Chinese and South Korean ships for the purpose, has been cancelled at the request of the Chinese government and the ministry said that it would talk the issue over with the Chinese government for early resumption.
The first cross boarding by the two governments was carried out in 2005 after the South Korean government’s proposal at the Korea-China Joint Committee on Fisheries. This year, it took place in May. The South Korean government expected that this year’s second cross boarding would be effective for preventing Chinese trawlers’ unauthorized fishing activities between this month and April next month in South Korea’s EEZ including the West Sea North Limit Line (NLL).
The unilateral notification of cancellation has to do with the South Korean government’s hard-line stance on Chinese fishing vessels in the West Sea. On October 7, two Chinese fishing vessels sank a speed boat of the South Korean maritime police. Then, the South Korean media and general public criticized the South Korean government for its poor diplomatic response. On October 11, the South Korean government announced that it would respond to certain Chinese fishing vessels by means of crew-served weapons and the like if necessary. On the very next day, the Foreign Ministry of China called for the South Korean government to withdraw the decision. On October 13, the South Korean government seized two Chinese fishing vessels after their false catch reporting. It is planning to take an administrative measure and the Chinese government is predicted to resist.