The Korean government will investigate claims that a Dutch cargo ship which arrived in a Korean port on 31 October is carrying illegally-caught fish.

The ship, the Holland Klipper, is carrying fish worth an estimated USD 14 million, according to the nonprofit group Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), which has made the claims.

"It is vitally important that major seafood markets such as South Korea send a strong signal to pirate fishing operators that they cannot continue to profit from the degradation of the marine environment, the depletion of fish stocks and the destruction of the livelihoods of coastal communities," said Steve Trent, EJF's executive director.

A representative of the Korean government announced the commitment to an investigation on 5 November at an EJF conference in Brussels.

According to the EJF, the 4,000-metric-ton vessel received an at-sea transfer, or transshipment of fish from as many as 20 Korean trawlers 95 miles off the coast of Guinea. The trawlers, according to EJF, were fishing in Sierra Leone's inshore exclusion zone, where neither they nor anyone else is allowed to fish.

The EJF claims it used satellite technology to track the vessels, and a satellite phone to confirm the transshipment with the Klipper's captain.

In a statement to the media, Green Sea, the company that owns and manages the Klipper, claimed clauses in the ship's contract permit the transshipment.

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