South Korea takes machine-gun approach to illegal fishing
South Korean authorities appear to have significantly escalated an already tense situation with an increased willingness to use fire against Chinese fishing vessels in South Korean waters.
Chinese and Korean officials met this week to repatriate Chinese two fishing vessels and 20 fishermen after coast guard vessels and a helicopter belonging to South Korea fired on a group of Chinese vessels that were allegedly fishing in Korean waters. More than 400 rounds of machine gun fire were directed at the Chinese boats, according to Phoenix TV, the only channel operating in China that’s not state-owned. This follows an incident in December where Korean patrol boats fired 200 bullets at 40 Chinese fishing vessels.
South Korea appears to have stepped up its efforts against illegal fishing, as it claims to have suffered KRW 1.3 trillion (USD 1.2 billion, EUR 980 million) in annual losses in 2016. Higher seafood prices as a result of the illegal fishing have also pushed food inflation in Korea.
China, which has lashed out at South Korea for its claims, has nontheless in recent years sought to reduce its near-shore fleet by retiring vessels and encouraging fishermen to take bigger vessels to far-off international waters.