South Korea plans to hold talks with China this month to explore ways to better tackle illegal fishing by Chinese fishermen in South Korean waters, the Korea Coast Guard chief said Wednesday.
The 6th Seoul-Beijing talks on fisheries cooperation, planned for Dec. 17-19 in Beijing, reflect the importance of increased diplomatic measures to address rampant poaching by Chinese fishing boats, Coast Guard chief Hong Ik-tae said in a meeting with senior representatives of the ruling Saenuri Party.
The Coast Guard is seeking to forge a memorandum of understanding with its Chinese counterpart for joint efforts while urging cooperation from the Chinese government to fight poaching, he also said.
The issue of illegal fishing by Chinese fishermen has been a nagging source of tension between South Korea and China and long been spotlighted as damaging the local fishery sector.
Hundreds of Chinese fishermen are arrested each year for illegally fishing in South Korea's western and southern waters, often leading to violent clashes with South Korean coast guard officials.
In early October, a Chinese captain was shot dead while resisting a crackdown in South Korea's exclusive waters, the latest in a series of similar incidents in recent years.
Since Nov. 19, Seoul has been operating a special crackdown team involving a fleet of four naval vessels, helicopters and special forces to fight poaching by Chinese fishermen. The Coast Guard has pledged to further beef up its crackdown with tougher punishment including confiscation of boats caught while fishing illegally.