Outcome of the 6th ROK-China Meeting on Fisheries Cooperation

The sixth meeting on fisheries cooperation between the Republic of Korea and China took place in Shanghai, China, on December 18. The meeting is a regular consultative channel for discussions on fisheries issues between the relevant agencies of the two countries. In the meeting, the two sides discussed ways to improve the fisheries order, including that for anchoring on the five islands in the Yellow Sea and in the East Sea. They also reviewed the progress in the implementation of various cooperation projects stipulated in the ROK-China Joint Statement for Future Vision. 

The ROK delegation to the meeting was led by Deputy Director-General for Northeast Asian Affairs Chung Byung-won of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and comprised of other relevant officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the Korea Coast Guard, the Embassy in China and the Consulates General in Shenyang, Qingdao and Shanghai, 18 in total. 

The Chinese delegation was headed by Deputy Director-General of the Department of Consular Affairs Zhai Leiming of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and included other relevant officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture, the China Coast Guard, and governments of Shandong and Liaoning Provinces and Shanghai, 14 in total. 

The two countries laid the groundwork for fisheries cooperation by stipulating cooperation measures in four fisheries fields in the ROK-China Joint Statement for Future Vision adopted at the bilateral summit talks held in June 2013. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the ROK in July 2014, the two countries reaffirmed the importance of this framework of cooperation, agreeing to work closely together particularly in the Yellow Sea. In the meeting, the two sides, citing the summit-level interest in fisheries issues and the first-ever round of the ROK-China joint patrols in their provisional measure zone on December 9-15 as a result of cooperation between their foreign affairs and fisheries agencies, shared the view that they had been stepping up fisheries cooperation between them. 

In the meeting, in particular, the ROK delegation cited the following as the key issues related to illegal fishing operations by Chinese fishing boats: illegal fishing operations in waters near the Northern Limit Line (NLL); the growing scale and systematization of illegal fishing operations; handling fishing boats that fish without permits, violate the ROK’s territorial waters and violently resist crackdowns; and illegal fishing operations and anchoring in the East Sea. The delegation also made clear that illegal fishing operations by Chinese fishing boats are causing enormous damage to Korean fishermen. In this regard, the ROK side asked the Chinese side to seek tangible and effective ways to prevent illegal fishing; as well as both the central and the provincial governments of China to take strong and effective measures in order to eliminate illegal fishing. 

The Chinese side explained that in response to the ROK side’s concerns and requests, it has deployed more crackdown vessels in vulnerable waters; stepped up punishment of illegally operating fishing boats; and increased education of fishermen. The Chinese side went on to say that it had instructed on many occasions governments of provinces with major fishing ports to strengthen crackdown, adding that it will pay close attention to the issue and take more proactive measures. 

With regard to the implementation of the measures in the fisheries field agreed upon between the leaders of the two countries, the two sides, in order to improve the fisheries order, including cracking down on illegal fishing, and step up communication, consulted with each other on ways to boost cooperation. Among the measures discussed were: holding ROK-China joint meetings attended by Chinese fisherman; conducting exchanges of visits between the two countries’ government officials in charge of fisheries policies; increasing joint patrols by the two countries’ guidance ships in the provisional measure zone; giving officials of the two countries in charge of fisheries guidance and crackdown more opportunities to board each other’s ships in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs); and seeking a memorandum of understanding between the coast guards -- the agencies in charge of fisheries crackdowns -- of the two countries. 

In the sixth meeting led by the Foreign Ministries and attended by government agencies of the two countries in charge of fisheries policies and crackdowns, the two sides shared the view that this meeting mechanism, along with the ROK-China Joint Fisheries Committee and other relevant bilateral consultative mechanisms, serves as an important channel for bilateral communication on the issue of illegal fishing operations and fisheries cooperation. They agreed to proactively use the consultative mechanism. 

The two sides agreed to hold their seventh meeting in Seoul in the first half of the year 2015.

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