The European Union has said it will delay its final decision on Korea's illegal fishing status to the end of February. This will allow Vice Minister of Oceans and Fisheries and Acting Minister Kim Young-suk to fly to Brussels in a last-ditch effort to explain the government's progress.
Kim will visit EU headquarters between Jan. 21 and 24 to inform of the progress Korea has made and drum up support to lift the imposition of the temporary illegal fishing status.
Kim will meet MARE's Director-General Lowri Evans and Karmenu Vella, commissioner for the environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Thursday, and International Maritime Organization officials, Friday.
The EU in November 2013 designated Korea as a preliminary illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) nation, along with Ghana and Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles
Korean fishing companies have been accused of repetitively engaging in illegal fishing in West African waters, while the fisheries ministry has been too lenient on the owners of those vessels.
In June last year, a group of EU officials came to Korea for an inspection before the economic block finalized its designation of Korea as an "illegal fishing nation," a decision that was expected to be handed down this month.
Once officially designated as an IUU country, the nation will face substantial disadvantages in trade. All fishery exports to EU nations, which amount to about $100 million a year, will be banned and Korean vessels' access to EU ports limited.
An EU delegation is slated to visit Korea between Feb. 24 and 25, prior to its final decision.
Meanwhile, the ministry is facing the final verdict about sanctions from the United States in February as well. The U.S. put Korea on its preliminary list of illegal fishing states in January 2013 and was expected to reach a final decision this month. But that was postponed for a month to conduct additional reviews.
The ministry will hold a briefing on the revised Ocean Industry Development Act, while the U.S. side will provide information on a presidential task force on combating illegal fishing.